Cholesterol remover

A polymer can do the trick

Published: Monday 28 February 2005

researchers from the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune have designed a polymer with the ability to absorb cholesterol. The product could help reduce ailments such as cardiovascular diseases, strokes and sclerosis (hardening) of the arteries (Journal of Chromatography B, Vol 804, No 1).

The polymer was developed using molecular imprinting. In this technique, the polymer's building blocks are mixed with cholesterol templates so the resultant molecule has pockets just the right size to hold the cholesterol molecule.

The polymer was tested in a solution that mimicked intestinal fluid to which cholesterol was added. After 24 hours, the polymer was separated from the solution and the remaining solution tested for the left-over cholesterol. The researchers found one gramme of the polymer could hold up to 45 milligrammes of cholesterol.

Similarly, to test whether the polymer would pocket useful molecules along with cholesterol, solutions with steroids were used. The researchers found negligible binding between the steroids and the polymer, thus making it a safe proposition.

Earlier polymers prepared by researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and the University Hospital Grosshadern in Munich could absorb only about 17 milligrammes and were not very selective.

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