Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Teenager with a glucose sensor and insulin pump.

Continuous blood-sugar monitors might someday include a newly developed molecule that binds glucose. Credit: Amelie Benoist/BSIP/Alamy

Chemistry

Molecular net fishes sugar from blood

Synthetic tool that binds to glucose could prove useful for people with diabetes.

A synthetic molecule can snatch a medically important sugar from blood, and might lead to new developments in diabetes therapy.

Many researchers have tried to build molecular receptors that can link to sugars, especially glucose, and extract these sugars from blood. But certain components of a glucose molecule are highly attractive to water. As a result, synthetic receptors in the blood often lose a tug-of-war against water molecules over a bit of glucose.

To win the battle, Anthony Davis at the University of Bristol, UK, and his colleagues synthesized a receptor that mimics sugar-scavenging proteins found in the body. The researchers added chemical groups to the receptor that made it more attractive to glucose and enabled it to grip sugars more tightly than other designs do.

The team’s version is nearly 100 times more attractive to glucose in water — and only slightly less than this in blood — than are previous versions of such receptors. The receptor captured glucose and similar sugars without grabbing unintended molecules, an efficacy that could make the design useful for applications such as blood-glucose monitors.

More Research Highlights...

Pulsar wind nebula illustration

Curving purple lines in this artist’s impression represent the magnetic field of a neutron star (white sphere) left over from a brilliant supernova. Credit: Salvatore Orlando/INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo

Astronomy and astrophysics

X-rays expose a clue to the mystery of the missing neutron star

Astronomers might have spotted the long-sought debris of a famous stellar explosion.
A bone fragment next to a dime

A bone fragment excavated in Southeast Alaska belonged to one of the earliest known domestic dogs in the Americas. Credit: Douglas Levere/University at Buffalo

Genomics

An ancient Alaskan dog’s DNA hints at an epic shared journey

To scientists’ surprise, a 10,000-year-old bone found in an Alaskan cave belonged to a domestic dog — one of the earliest known from the Americas.
Emissions billow from smokestacks at a coal-fired power plant as the sun sets, India.

Black carbon emitted by power plants and other sources in Asia wafts to the Arctic, where the pollution accelerates the melting of ice and snow. Credit: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg/Getty

Atmospheric science

Soot from Asia travels express on a highway to the high Arctic

Black carbon from fuel combustion in South Asia bolsters the effects of climate change on northern ice and snow.
Prevotella copri bacteria, computer illustration

The gut bacterium Prevotella copri (artist’s impression) has been linked to a reduction in the health benefits of a diet that skimps on red meat in favour of fish and vegetables. Credit: Kateryna Kon/Science Photo Library

Microbiology

Trying a Mediterranean diet? Gut microbes might sway the outcome

The composition of a person’s microbiome could influence the health effects of swapping steak for vegetables and olive oil.
Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing

Search

Quick links