Allergy Problems, Take a Buckyball.

Posted on 30, Sep, 2007 at 22:00

Category: Science

What do you get when you place 60 carbon atoms, arranged into 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons, and looks like a soccer ball? You get what scientist call a buckyball. When I first heard the term buckyball, I formed a vivid picture in my mind that contained my favorite Saturday Nite Live Comedy writer Mr. Henry, but I wonít go there. It is really named after American architect R. Buckminister Fuller who designed a geodesic dome with the same fundamental symmetry.

These buckyballs are really good at attracting reactive oxygen byproduct molecules called free radicals. The buckyballs act like a sponge to sop these free radical groups and other chemicals that contain oxygen. Chris Kepley, an immunologist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, have done experiments that buckyball also sop up histamine. Histamine released from mast cells and basophils cause allergic reactions. Their experiments show that buckyballs can greatly reduce allergic reactions.

This opens up a whole new area of testing and research for other diseases such as Parkinsonís disease, Alzheimerís disease, Arthritis and diabetes. The next steps are to design buckyballs that only target mast cells and basophiles. And so far, there has been no evidence of toxicity to either mice or cell culture, but there is still a lot of work in that areas in order to show these molecules are safe to use in humans.


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