Newly discovered viruses isolated from microorganisms
living in boiling acid pools in Yellowstone National
Park are serving as raw materials for amazingly diverse
new products, from nanoelectronics to drug delivery
systems for cancer treatment.
With NSF support, researchers at Montana State
University isolated these
viruses and studied their
protein shells, or "cages."
The researchers have now
artificially replicated the
cages for new applications in
nanotechnology. The team has used the cages as bases for new platinum catalysts to efficiently produce hydrogen and made advanced magnetic materials for use in memory devices now in development with Panasonic.
The researchers also established SpeciGen, a biotech company, which has exclusive rights to the patented protein cage technology. The company is developing targeted drug delivery and imaging agents, and reports that it has more than $11 million of
The structure of a virus from a boiling acid pool in Yellowstone
National Park. The virus protein
coat is practically indestructible
and is finding many uses.