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Techniques & Tools Polymers, Liquid Chromatography

A Bloody Good Concept

What? Researchers from Australia have shown that the chemicals found inside red blood cells can act as a catalyst for the synthesis of plastics.

How? In one of the more unexpected concoctions we’ve seen, Greg Qiao and his team from the University of Melbourne combined sheep’s blood and N,N’-dimethylacrylamide, before adding the enzyme glucose oxidase and leaving the mixture in a sealed vial. They then analyzed the mixture at intervals using proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR) and size-exclusion chromatography (SEC), discovering that “smooth polymerization” was observed in under 45 minutes (1). Polymerization is triggered when glucose oxidase produces hydrogen peroxide – releasing hydroxyl radicals from the heme group.

Why? The researchers hope the technique could one day allow improved in vitro cell engineering.

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About the Author

Joanna Cummings

A former library manager and storyteller, I have wanted to write for magazines since I was six years old, when I used to make my own out of foolscap paper and sellotape and distribute them to my family. Since getting my MSc in Publishing, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and content creator for both digital and print, writing on subjects such as fashion, food, tourism, photography – and the history of Roman toilets. Now I can be found working on The Analytical Scientist, finding the ‘human angle’ to cutting-edge science stories.

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