Chiral nanostructures could help accelerate drug discovery

A new photonic effect in semiconducting helical particles with nanoscale dimensions has been discovered by an international team of scientists from the University of Bath, UK and the University of Michigan, US. Here, Professors Nicholas Kotov and Ventsislav Valev discuss their study and the observed effect which has the potential to accelerate the discovery and development of life-saving traditional medicines and biomimetic nanoparticles with chiral structures.

Currently, the World Health Organization regards antibiotic resistance (the growing ineffectiveness of drugs currently on the market) as one of the top 10 threats to humanity. Moreover, globalisation coupled with human encroachment into wildlife habitats and rapid increase of meat consumption increases the risk of new infectious diseases (such as COVID-19) emerging. It is widely recognised that the cost of discovering and developing new drugs for these conditions using today’s technology is unsustainable. The need for pharmaceutical research to be accelerated has never been more pressing and it would benefit hugely from the help of new and improved drug discovery platforms taking advantage of nanoscale materials and related new optical effects.