Brain Disease Transmitted By Tick Bites May be Treatable (Medicine)

Tick-borne encephalitis is a disease just as nasty as it sounds. Once bitten by an infected tick, some people develop flu-like symptoms that resolve quietly but leave behind rampant neurological disease—brain swelling, memory loss, and cognitive decline. Cases are on the rise in Central Europe and Russia with some 10,000 incidents reported each year. Vaccines can provide protection, but only for a limited time. There is no cure.  

Now a new study describes antibodies capable of neutralizing the virus transmitted by tick bites. These so-called broadly neutralizing antibodies have shown promise in preventing TBE in mice and could inform the development of better vaccines for humans. Further, preliminary results suggest that the antibodies may not only prevent tick-borne encephalitis but even treat the condition, as well as the related Powassan virus emerging in the United States. 

Lead author Marianna Agudelo and colleagues in the laboratory of Rockefeller’s Michel C. Nussenzweig examined nearly 800 antibodies obtained from individuals who had recovered from TBE or had been vaccinated to prevent infection. The most potent antibodies, designated VH3-48, turned out to be best suited to fend off future infections. They found that VH3-48 neutralized lab-grown varieties of the TBE virus, as well other tick-borne illnesses including the Langat, Louping ill, Omsk hemorrhagic fever, Kyasanur forest disease, and Powassan viruses. 

The researchers also showed that these powerful antibodies are not common; in fact, most of the antibodies produced by humans exposed to TBE virus are of inferior quality, with the coveted VH3-48 antibodies making only occasional appearances. Moreover, vaccinated patients in the study did not manage to develop any VH3-48 antibodies at all. “You’d expect the most prevalent antibodies to be the absolute best, but that is not what we found in TBE,” Agudelo says. “This may explain how the virus tricks the immune system, misdirecting it into producing inferior antibodies.” 

The discovery of VH3-48 provides hope for a more effective TBE vaccine. Current vaccines require three doses spaced over two years and only provide about five years of protection before a booster shot is required. Next-generation vaccines built around coaxing the body into producing the rare VH3-48 antibody could be more potent, require fewer booster shots, and also prove protective against a number of tick-borne viruses.  

“A vaccine like this would not just be more elegant, but also better focused,” says Michel C. Nussenzweig, the Zanvil A. Cohn and Ralph M. Steinman Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at Rockefeller. “Now that we have the structures of these antibodies, we know what to target in order to design more effective vaccines.” 

Broadly neutralizing antibodies may also provide the first specific treatment for TBE. Nussenzweig, Agudelo, and colleagues found that mice infected with TBE recover after receiving antibody therapy, although it remains to be seen if this finding will translate to humans.

“The next step is a clinical trial with the antibodies,” Nussenzweig says, “perhaps in Europe where there are many cases, to see whether we can ameliorate the symptoms of those suffering from encephalitis.”

Featured image: The castor bean tick, which is prevalent throughout Europe, can cause both Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis. © Rockefeller University

Reference: Marianna Agudelo, Martin Palus, Jennifer R. Keeffe, Filippo Bianchini, Pavel Svoboda, Jiří Salát, Avery Peace, Anna Gazumyan, Melissa Cipolla, Tania Kapoor, Francesca Guidetti, Kai-Hui Yao, Jana Elsterová, Dana Teislerová, Aleš Chrdle, Václav Hönig, Thiago Oliveira, Anthony P. West, Yu E. Lee, Charles M. Rice, Margaret R. MacDonald, Pamela J. Bjorkman, Daniel Růžek, Davide F. Robbiani, Michel C. Nussenzweig; Broad and potent neutralizing human antibodies to tick-borne flaviviruses protect mice from disease. J Exp Med 3 May 2021; 218 (5): e20210236. doi:

Provided by Rockefeller University

Discoveries on Vitis amurensis Genome May Shed Light on Cold Tolerance of Grapevine Breeding (Botany)

Researchers from the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IBCAS), together with domestic and foreign collaborators, released the chromosome level genome of Vitis amurensis (Shanputao) and put new insights into cold and freezing tolerance of grapevine.  

V. amurensis is a wild grape species widely spread in East Asia. It has been seemed as an ideal plant material for grape cold resistance breeding, as it can survive at extremely low temperature below -30°C. Although V. amurensis has been studied for several decades, its cold tolerance mechanism is still not clear.  

The researchers have drawn a high-quality fine map of V. amurensis, which has laid a foundation for the study of cold tolerance mechanism of grapevine.

They found that there might exist a different regulation mechanism between chilling and freezing responses in grape. Genes such as MYB14 and CBF3 played an important role in the early response to chilling injury, while carbohydrate metabolism might also be one of the important factors affecting freezing injury in grape.  

In addition, genome-wide association study and transcriptomic analysis showed that the expression level of phosphoglycerate kinase, a key gene in glycolysis pathway, was important for dormant buds of grape survival in the severe winter.  

According to the genome, a PAT1 (Phytochrome A signal transduction 1) gene, a member of the GRAS family, was cloned from V. amurensis. It was found that PAT1 protein could activate the expression of LIPOXYGENASE 3 gene by interacting with INDETERMINATE-DOMAIN 3 protein, thus promote the biosynthesis of jasmonic acid (JA) which improve the cold tolerance of grape. These findings revealed that PAT1 gene may play an important role in cold tolerance of grapevine.  

“The Shanputao genome sequence not only represents a valuable resource for grape breeders, but also is important for clarifying the molecular mechanisms involved in cold tolerance. Based on the genome sequence, we indeed found the pivotal role of PAT1 in the cold stress response in grape by regulating JA biosynthesis. This could be a very interesting direction for enhancing grape cold resistance in breeding,” said Prof. LIANG Zhenchang, correspondence author of the study.  

The above studied have been published online in The Plant Journal and Plant Physiology, respectively.

Featured image: The contrast of two varieties after a cold winter in Ningxia (Image by FAN Peige). The lower is Cabernet Sauvignon (V. vinifera), the upper is Beihong (V. vinifera x V. amurensis) (Image by IBCAS)


(1) The genome of Shanputao (VVitis amurensis) provides a new insight into cold tolerance of Grapevine (2) GRAS-domain transcription factor PAT1 regulates jasmonic acid biosynthesis in grape cold stress response

Provided by Chinese Academy of Sciences

How Do Architectural Traits Explain Structural Evolution of Euphorbia? (Botany)

The ecological performance of plants (i.e., ability to compete for resources and overcome disturbances) largely depends upon plant architecture. However, the role of architecture in plant evolution has been weakly explored.  

The genus Euphorbia L. is well suited as a model group to study the evolution of architecture as it has high growth form diversity comprising single stemmed short-statured plants, rosettes, shrubs and trees. 

In a study published in New Phytologist, researchers from the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) made the first attempt to classify Euphorbia traits according to their architecture. They investigated how architectural traits can explain the structural evolution of Euphorbia and specifically tested whether climate has been a major evolutionary driver of architecture in the clade. 

Combining phylogenetic analyses with regression modelling, the researchers separated architectural traits into four evolutionary categories: development constraints (phylogenetic signal only); convergences (environmental dependency only); key confluences to the environmental driver (both); unknown (neither). 

Using a large phylogeny with 193 Euphorbia species, they screened a total of 73 structural traits (22 representing convergences under climate groups; 21 showing phylogenetic signal but no relation to climate; and 16 with both climate and phylogenetic signals), and identified 14 architectural types with different structural properties and levels of complexity. 

They found that plant architecture in Euphorbia was strongly associated with three main climatic groups, namely deserts where water is limiting (cold and hot deserts grouped together), temperate zones subject to freezing winter temperatures, and tropical systems that are frost-free and include aseasonal wet systems to seasonally dry systems. 

“The result is not exhaustive because we only describe 10 percent of the genus,” said Artémis Anest, first author of the study. 

“Our results provide insights into the colonization of arid and temperate systems, the evolution of complex plant architecture, and how the elaboration of structure can allow the emergence of new functions,” said Dr. Kyle W. Tomlinson of XTBG.

Reference: Anest, A., Charles‐Dominique, T., Maurin, O., Millan, M., Edelin, C. and Tomlinson, K.W. (2021), Evolving the structure: Climatic and developmental constraints on the evolution of plant architecture. A case study in Euphorbia. New Phytologist. Accepted Author Manuscript.

Provided by Chinese Academy of Sciences

CO2 Mitigation On Earth and Magnesium Civilization On Mars (Chemistry)

Excessive CO2 emissions are a major cause of climate change, and hence reducing the CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere is key to limit adverse environmental effects. Rather than just capture and store CO2, it would be desirable to use it as carbon feedstock for fuel production to achieve the target of “net-zero-emissions energy systems”. The capture and conversion of CO2 (from fuel gas or directly from the air) to methane and methanol simply using water as a hydrogen source under ambient conditions would provide an optimal solution to reduce excessive CO2 levels and would be highly sustainable.

Researchers at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, demonstrated the use of Magnesium (nanoparticles and bulk) to directly react CO2 with water at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, forming methane, methanol, and formic acid without requiring external energy sources. Magnesium is the eighth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and fourth most common element in the Earth (after iron, oxygen and silicon).

The conversion of CO2 (pure, as well as directly from the air) took place within a few minutes at 300 K and 1 bar. A unique cooperative action of Mg, basic magnesium carbonate, CO2, and water enabled this CO2 transformation. If any of the four components were missing, no CO2 conversion took place. The reaction intermediates and the reaction pathway were identified by 13CO2 isotopic labeling, powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and in-situ attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform Infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), and rationalized by density-functional theory (DFT) calculations. During CO2 conversion, Mg was converted to magnesium hydroxide and carbonate, which may be regenerated.

Mg is one of the metals with the lowest energy demand for production and generates the lowest amount of CO2 during production. Using this protocol, 1 kg of magnesium via simple reaction with water and CO2 produces 2.43 liters of methane, 940 liters of hydrogen and 3.85 kg of basic magnesium carbonate (used in green cement, pharma industry etc.), and also small amounts of methanol, and formic acid.

In the absence of CO2, Mg does not react efficiently with water and hydrogen yield was extremely low, 100 μmol g-1 as compared to 42000 μmol g-1 in the presence of CO2. This was due to the poor solubility of magnesium hydroxide formed by the reaction of Mg with water, restricting the internal Mg surface from reacting further with water. However, in the presence of CO2, magnesium hydroxide gets converted to carbonates and basic carbonates, which are more soluble in water than magnesium hydroxide and get peeled off from Mg, exposing fresh Mg surface to react with water. Thus, this protocol can even be used for hydrogen production (940 liter per kg of Mg), which is nearly 420 times more than hydrogen produced by the reaction of Mg with water alone (2.24 liter per kg of Mg).

Notably, this entire production happens in just 15 minutes, at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, in the exceptionally simple and safe protocol. Unlike other metal powder, the Mg powder is extremely stable (due to the presence of a thin MgO passivation surface layer) and can be handled in the air without any loss in activity. The use of fossil fuels need to be restricted (if not avoided), to combat climate change. This Mg protocol will then be one of the sustainable CO2 conversion protocols, for a CO2-neutral process to produce various chemicals and fuels (methane, methanol, formic acid and hydrogen).

Planet Mars’ environment has 95.32% of CO2, while its surface has water in the form of ice. Recently, the presence of magnesium on Mars in abundant amounts was also reported. Therefore, to explore the possibility of the use of this Mg-assisted CO2 conversion process on Mars, researchers carried out this Mg-assisted CO2 conversion at a lower temperature. Notably, methane, methanol, formic acid and hydrogen were produced in a reasonable amount. These results indicate the potential of this Mg process to be used in the Mars’ environment, a step towards magnesium utilization on Mars, although more detailed studies are needed.

Featured image: Bubble the air in water with a pinch of magnesium and we will get fuel. © Vivek Polshettiwar

Reference: Sushma A. Rawool, Rajesh Belgamwar, Rajkumar Jana, Ayan Maity, Ankit Bhumla, Nevzat Yigit, Ayan Datta, Günther Rupprechter and Vivek Polshettiwar, “Direct CO2 capture and conversion to fuels on magnesium nanoparticles under ambient conditions simply using water”, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021. DOI: 10.1039/D1SC01113H link:

Provided by Tata Institute of fundamental research

Creatine Promotes Cancer Metastasis Through Activation of Smad2/3 (Medicine)

As one of the most popular nutrient supplements, creatine has been used to enhance muscle mass and the function of heathy human subjects. Dietary creatine supplementation has even been used in clinical trial to reverse cachexia of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients, although creatine uptake has been demonstrated to fail to improve either muscle function or life quality of the patients.Studies using subcutaneous injection mouse models showed that creatine uptake suppresses tumor growth, setting creatine as an anti-tumor supplement. However, subcutaneous injection mouse models are not clinically relevant for investigation of tumor progression, and tumor growth is not always coupled with metastasis. Thus, it remains to be elucidated how creatine affects tumor progression, such as metastasis and patient survival.

In a study published in Cell Metabolism, a research group led by Prof. BU Pengcheng at the Institute of Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), collaborating with PIAO Hailong from Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics of the CAS and CHEN Gang from Chinese PLA General Hospital, reported that creatine promotes cancer metastasis through activation of Smad2/3.

To explore creatine function in cancer metastasis, the researchers used an orthotopic mouse model and found that dietary uptake creatine promoted the metastasis of colorectal cancer and breast cancer and shortened mice survival.

They found that the rate-limiting enzyme for creatine synthesis, glycine acyltransferase (GATM), is up-regulated in liver metastasis. Clinically, high levels of GATM were significantly associated with poorer prognosis. GATM promoted CRC liver metastasis and shortened mouse survival, while targeting GATM or creatine transporter SLC6A8 reduced CRC liver metastasis and prolonged mouse survival.

To investigate the mechanism, the researchers performed multi-pathway profiling array and found that creatine upregulated Smad2/3 phosphorylation. Creatine activated Smad2/3 signaling via monopolar spindle 1 (MPS1), a protein kinase associated with mitotic progression and spindle checkpoint.

They further found that creatine also upregulated downstream transcription factor Snail/Slug expression. MPS1 knockdown and specific inhibitor inhibited primary tumor invasion and cancer metastasis by down-regulating Snail/Slug expression, and prolonged mice survival.

This study called for using caution when considering dietary creatine to improve muscle mass or clinical treatment especially for cancer patients. It reported creatine activated Smad2/3 through MPS1, rather than transforming growth factor beta receptor (TGFBR) in the canonical TGF-beta pathway. They also suggested that targeting GATM or MPS1 prevents cancer metastasis, especially metastasis of TGFBR mutant colorectal cancers.

CRC is the third most deadly and fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world, and the incidence has been steadily rising. About 25% of diagnoses cases has metastasized and 70% of CRC patients eventually develop liver metastasis. Hereditary CRC account for 7-10% of all cases, and diet are significant CRC risk factors.

Reference: Liwen Zhang, Zijing Zhu, Huiwen Yan, Wen Wang, Zhenzhen Wu, Fei Zhang, Qixiang Zhang, Guizhi Shi, Junfeng Du, Huiyun Cai, Xuanxuan Zhang, David Hsu, Pu Gao, Hai-long Piao, Gang Chen, Pengcheng Bu, Creatine promotes cancer metastasis through activation of Smad2/3, Cell Metabolism, 2021, , ISSN 1550-4131, (

Provided by Chinese Academy of Sciences

Scientists Discover Novel Mechanism for Occurrence of Tumor Multidrug Resistance (Biology)

As industrial development results in environmental deterioration, cancer is increasingly becoming a serious threat to human health. As one of the most common treatments for tumors, chemotherapy’s efficacy is often affected by multidrug resistance (MDR). MDR will not only lead to the failure of chemotherapy, but also make tumors resistant to a variety of drugs with different structures and different targets, contributing to tumor recurrence and metastasis, and accounting for 90% of chemotherapy-related deaths. 

Since their first discovery in 1970, ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters such as MDR proteins and MDR-associated proteins have been considered as the main cause of MDR in tumor cells. Scientists have done lots of research to screen effective inhibitors to overcome MDR, but with little success, which could be attributed to the fact that the internal regulatory mechanism of MDR proteins is still largely unknown. 

Besides, nanoparticles are increasingly being used as drug carriers to overcome MDR due to their larger particle size and enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect (nanoparticles and some macromolecular drugs are more likely to penetrate into tumor tissues and retain for a long time). However, further research indicated that the nanoparticles themselves may act as transporter inhibitors or inducers, which may help or hinder tumor treatment. It follows that the interaction between ABC transporters and nanoparticles is more complicated than expected, and further research is needed. 

Recently, Prof. YIN Jian and Prof. YIN Huancai from the Suzhou Institute of Biomedical and Engineering of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) used human lung cancer (A549) and human cervical cancer (HeLa) cells as models to study the potential interaction between ABC transporters and nanoparticles (gold nanoparticles and titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles).  

The results showed that ABC transporters didn’t mediate efflux and direct detoxification of these nanoparticles due to their large sizes. However, when the nanoparticles caused an obvious apoptosis-inducing effect in tumor cells, the expression and function of ABC transporters in the surviving cells were significantly enhanced, and the reactive oxygen species (ROS) level of the cells was greatly reduced, thereby protecting the cells from the damages of nanoparticles.  

In addition, pregnane X receptor (PXR) and nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor-2 (Nrf2) participated in the non-specific regulation of ABC transporters. 

For a long time, MDR was considered to be caused by the induction of transporters in tumor cells after using chemotherapy drugs. However, researchers often cannot explain why up-regulated transporters could be resistant to almost all chemotherapy drugs and why specific inhibitors of transporters often fail to enhance the drug efficacy.  

The results of this article provide a possible explanation, that is, the MDR proteins may be up-regulated against the oxidative stress that threatens the survival of cells, and be detoxified by efflux of oxidation products.  

At the same time, the treatment of transporter inhibitors cannot avoid the compensation effect between various transporters. In this case, targeted suppression of the main transcription factors that regulate the up-regulation of transporters may have a better effect. 

The research article “Involvement of ABC transporters in the detoxification of non-substrate nanoparticles in lung and cervical cancer cells” has been published in Toxicology.  

This research was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Youth Innovation Promotion Association of CAS, and the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province. 

Featured image: The mechanism of gold nanoparticles and TiO2 nanoparticles in inducing ABC transporters in tumor cells. After entering cells, nanoparticles are detoxified by consuming GSH in the cells. When GSH is over-consumed, a large number of oxidation products would induce the expression of ABC transporters, and the up-regulated transporters would reduce the excessive oxidative stress and detoxify by efflux of the oxidation products. Transcription factors such as PXR and Nrf2 played important roles in the modulation of this process. (Image by SIBET)

Reference: Tongkuo Yuan, Jiaojiao Sun, Jingjing Tian, Jia Hu, Huancai Yin, Jian Yin, Involvement of ABC transporters in the detoxification of non-substrate nanoparticles in lung and cervical cancer cells, Toxicology, Volume 455, 2021, 152762, ISSN 0300-483X, (

Provided by Chinese Academy of Sciences

Dual-bed Catalyst Enables High Conversion of Syngas to Gasoline-range Liquid Hydrocarbons (Chemistry)

Gasoline, the primary transportation fuel, contains hydrocarbons with 5-11 carbons (C5-11) and is almost derived from petroleum at present.

Gasoline can also be produced from non-petroleum syngas. Nonetheless, achieving high conversions of syngas to C5-11 with excellent selectivity and stability remains a challenge.

A research group led by Prof. LIU Zhongmin and Prof. ZHU Wenliang from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences realized highly efficient and selective conversion of syngas to gasoline-range liquid hydrocarbons over a dual-bed catalyst.

The study was published in Chem Catalysis on April 2.

This dual-bed catalyst, (CZA +Al2O3)/N-ZSM-5(97), consists of the conventional syngas-to-dimethyl ether catalyst CZA + Al2O3 in the upper bed and a dimethyl ether-to-gasoline catalyst N-ZSM-5(97) in the lower bed.

The selectivity of C5-11 and C3-11 in the hydrocarbon products reached 80.6% and 98.2%, respectively, along with 86.3% CO conversion.

The catalyst exhibited excellent stability, and the iso/n-paraffin ratio in the C5-11 products was up to 18. The nano-sized structure of N-ZSM-5(97) was beneficial for reducing coke and prolonging the lifetime; meanwhile, the low acid content of N-ZSM-5(97) was advantageous for increasing the C5-11 selectivity.

Compared with the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process, this dual-bed syngas-to-gasoline (STG) process was more suitable for producing high-quality gasoline, along with the co-production of aromatic hydrocarbons.

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Featured image: Schematic diagram for the conversion of syngas to gasoline-range liquid hydrocarbons over a dual-bed catalyst (CZA+Al2O3)/N-ZSM-5(97) and results of the stability test (Image by NI Youming)


Realizing high conversion of syngas to gasoline-range liquid hydrocarbons on a dual-bed-mode catalyst

Provided by Chinese Academy of Sciences

Panda “Painted” on Gel Surface (Chemistry)

Surface patterning techniques of gels have shown promising applications in various fields, such as cell guidance and differentiation, biological screening, smart robots and controlled adhesion. However, due to the high-water content and flexibility of gels, performing the surface patterning of gels with high precision remains a great challenge.  

Based on the hydrophilic/hydrophobic interactions at the solid-liquid interface and emulsion interfacial polymerization, Prof. WANG Shutao’s team from the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry (TIPC) of the Chinese Academy and Sciences (CAS) proposed a general wetting-enabled-transfer (WET) strategy. With the help of WET strategy, precise patterning of organogels and hydrogels on organohydrogel surfaces was enabled.  

This study, published in Advanced Materials, showed the high universality of the WET strategy. Firstly, surface patterning of organohydrogels with tunable sizes from microscale to macroscale on either flat or curved surface can be achieved. Moreover, the strategy can be applicable to different kinds of hydrogel and organogel monomers, such as electropositive acrylic amide (AM), electroneutral 2-hydroxyethyl acrylate (HEA), electronegative acrylic acid (AA) and so on.  

By optimizing the experimental parameters, including species of gel monomers, size of the emulsion droplets, and substrate wettability, the researchers realized a high resolution of several microns through the WET strategy. And it was comparable to the result that completed by photolithography. 

They also conducted a pattern-transfer experiment using the surface-patterned organohydrogels as a soft printing template to demonstrate the feasibility of application. Intact and robust pattern transferring to single-phase hydrogel surface was designed, which is quite difficult to achieve with current transfer printing techniques.  

“This WET strategy opens up new possibilities for the design and fabrication of new-generation surface-patterned soft materials. In the future, some functional molecules or nanocomponents can be introduced into the system to endow these surface-patterned soft materials with new features. We believe that our strategy may evoke great interest in many promising fields, such as flexible electronics, oil/water collection, anti-counterfeiting and neuron network construction,” said Prof. WANG.  

This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program, the International Partnership Program of CAS and the Natural Science Foundation of Jilin Province.  

Featured image: a. Schematic Diagram of the Surface Patterning through a WET strategy; b. Demonstration of Complex Hydrogel and Organogel Patterns on Organohydrogel Surface. (Image by Prof. WANG)

Reference: Wan, X., Xu, X., Liu, X., Jia, L., He, X., Wang, S., A Wetting‐Enabled‐Transfer (WET) Strategy for Precise Surface Patterning of Organohydrogels. Adv. Mater. 2021, 2008557.

Provided by Chinese Academy of Sciences

Researchers Invent Supercold Tolerant Wet Adhesive (Chemistry)

Inspired by the fascinating adhesive and cold-tolerant properties of spider silks, Chinese researchers led by Prof. WANG Shutao from the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry (TIPC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have recently proposed a spider-silk-inspired wet adhesive. The adhesive is composed of core–sheath nanostructured fibers with hygroscopic adhesive nanosheath and supporting nanocore, showing robust wet adhesion and supercold tolerance. 

The study, published in Advanced Materials, has demonstrated the promising applicability of this spider-silk-inspired adhesives in cryogenic environments. It also provides an innovative route to design functional wet adhesives.  

Nowadays, the adhesive materials are applied in various fields, facing more complex environments like polar adventure, aerospace and cold supply chain. However, achieving or maintaining high adhesion performance in complex environments remains a major challenge for the developed adhesives.  

Scientists observed that spiders can capture prey under the roof or along the lake with their capture silks. Besides, the dragline silks of spider exhibit high mechanical property at very low temperature. With the inspiration of spider, Prof. WANG’s team designed their work.  

The researchers found that the adhesion performance of this spider-silk-inspired adhesive could be optimized by regulating the water content, the wettability of the adhered surface and the diameter of supporting nanocores.   

To further demonstrate the promising applicability of the wet adhesive in cryogenic environments, they adhered this spider-silk-inspired adhesive on different objects, such as fresh apple, frozen meat package, cryo-tube, and even metal box with cryopreserved cells and stored them in their corresponding store temperature.

As a result, it maintained reliable adhesion in their corresponding store temperature (from 4 to -196 °C) and further tolerated disturbances in liquid nitrogen (-196 °C). 

“The study may provide a new design principle to fabricate functional adhesives to meet requirements of extreme environments, and also promote developing in spider-silk-inspired materials and other new wet adhesive materials,” said Prof. WANG.

This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the National Program for Special Support of Eminent Professionals of Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee.

Featured image: Spider-Silk- Inspired Wet Adhesive Demonstrates Universal Wet Adhesion with Supercold Tolerance. (Image by WANG et al.)

Reference: Liu, X., Shi, L., Wan, X., Dai, B., Yang, M., Gu, Z., Shi, X., Jiang, L., Wang, S., A Spider‐Silk‐Inspired Wet Adhesive with Supercold Tolerance. Adv. Mater. 2021, 33, 2007301.

Provided by Chinese Academy of Sciences