Editorial Feature

Biomedical Applications of Perovskite Nanocrystals

Research into disease prevention and strategies to control the transmission of viruses has always been a significant field of study; however, with the ongoing global SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic, advancements in the area have become critical. 

Biomedical Applications of Perovskite Nanocrystals

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The severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection has been one of the most infectious viruses resulting in a global pandemic, with a high rate of distribution and transmission, and to reduce the spread of the infection novel research has been undertaken.

A group of researchers utilized perovskite nanocrystals to suppress the coronavirus by comparing three different perovskite nanostructures: strontium titanate, calcium titanate, and barium titanate.

Perovskite, otherwise known as calcium titanium oxide, consists of calcium titanate and was first discovered by a Russian mineralogist, Perovski, the eponymous founder of perovskite, in 1839. Materials that have the same crystal structure are referred to as perovskite materials and can be used for various applications.

The benefits of utilizing perovskite nanocrystals include its desirable photophysical attributes comprising tunable bandgaps, narrow emission, strong light-absorption coefficients, and high defect tolerance.

These advantageous characteristics enable perovskite nanocrystals to be used in various fields, from semiconductor advances, optics within solar cells, light-emitting diodes, and biomedical research.

Utilizing Perovskite Nanocrystals for Biomedical Applications

The use of nanocrystals has already been established for the application of biomedical research due to their remarkable chemical and physical characteristics. Gold nanocrystals have gained popularity due to their exhibition of plasmonic properties that allow them to benefit from having large light scattering abilities, high sensitivity to their environment, and their ability to enhance the optical signal, which makes them useful for medical and diagnostic therapeutics.

The rise of nanocrystal research which has expanded to perovskite materials can also be applied for critical advancements in viral therapeutics. The benefits of perovskite nanocrystals can be exploited as a suppression agent against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which could reduce its transmissibility.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused high levels of mortality and morbidity due to the effect on the respiratory system, which can range from mild symptoms such as fever, cough, malaise or severe symptoms such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

The rise in mutating variants has led to an increase in research into understanding the mechanism of the virus and how to effectively fight off the disease.

This research team aimed to investigate the use of perovskite as a method of suppressing the COVID-19 infection and analyzed three perovskite nanostructures.

The team used Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulation to analyze the physical movements of atoms and molecules to find the material which has the most potential for this application.

The research included simulations of spike protein interaction with specific perovskite structures which they were investigating before reaching the ACE2 enzyme, critical for the entry of the virus into the host cell. The objective of the research included suppressing viral entry through deactivating the spike protein utilizing the optimal perovskite nanostructure material.

While strontium titanate was found to be the most effective nanostructure, having an average radius of gyration of 0.12459869 nm, all three perovskite nanostructure candidates showed potential and were able to decrease the energy levels.

This signifies the potential of using strontium titanate as a method of controlling and preventing the penetration of SARS-CoV-2 into host cells.

Advancing Biomedical Research

Viral propagation is a global concern for the populations due to the transmissibility of various viral species, which can be seen through the COVID-19 pandemic. While most infectious viruses have been researched and provided with confident and effective vaccines, the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been met with more difficulty by the science community.

From high transmission rates to mutating variants and high morality, innovative research into novel strategies has been undertaken.

By reducing the viral propagation via perovskite nanostructures and utilizing the highest performing material for this purpose, strontium titanate, the potential to control this infectious virus from entering the host cell can be a step towards a more protected population.

However, with this research being mainly in its infancy, further research is required, such as through in vitro and in vivo experimentation to comprehend how perovskite nanocrystals perform in a cellular environment as well as potential cytotoxicity. This may lead to further enhancement of stability with encapsulation to increase efficacy due to the extraneous factors of the body.  

This promising research can lead to scientific breakthroughs with collaborating researchers advancing biomedical applications using perovskite nanocrystals. Achieving suppression of a virus in this manner can be an effective strategy used for all viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus and enable societies to have a better quality of life without the fear of disease transmission.

Continue reading: Polymeric Nanoparticles and the Future of Gene Delivery Methods.

Further Reading and References

Shao L., Wang J. (2015) Functional Metal Nanocrystals for Biomedical Applications. In: Ho AP., Kim D., Somekh M. (eds) Handbook of Photonics for Biomedical Engineering. Springer, Dordrecht. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6174-2_34-1

Khedri, M., Zandi, P., Ghasemy, E., Nikzad, A., Maleki, R. and Rezaei, N., (2021) In-silico study on perovskites application in capturing and distorting coronavirus. Informatics in Medicine Unlocked, 26, p.100755. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.imu.2021.100755

Wang, S., Yousefi Amin, A., Wu, L., Cao, M., Zhang, Q. and Ameri, T., (2021) Perovskite Nanocrystals: Synthesis, Stability, and Optoelectronic Applications. Small Structures, 2(3), p.2000124. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/sstr.202000124

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Marzia Khan

Written by

Marzia Khan

Marzia Khan is a lover of scientific research and innovation. She immerses herself in literature and novel therapeutics which she does through her position on the Royal Free Ethical Review Board. Marzia has a MSc in Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine as well as a BSc in Biomedical Sciences. She is currently working in the NHS and is engaging in a scientific innovation program.

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