A protein nanocomposite for ultra-fast, efficient and non-irritating skin decontamination of nerve agents†
In recent assassinations reported in London and Malaysia, nerve agents were used to cause death, by skin poisoning. Skin decontamination is the ultimate and most important defense against nerve agent poisoning, because no effective antidote currently exists. However, almost no existing material can achieve effective and rapid decontamination without irritating the skin. This study links proteins that exhibit no decontamination ability with polymers to form a nanocomposite. This creates a nanospace on the surface of the protein that attracts and traps organic molecules, effectively adsorbing the nerve agent Soman within several seconds, without irritating the skin. Analysis of the different components of proteins and polymers reveals that the decontamination efficiency is considerably affected by the thickness of the coated polymer. Moreover, the thickness of the layer is predominantly determined by the size and species of the core and the crosslinking method. Further in vivo experiments on rats poisoned with Soman verify the efficiency and safety of the nanocomposite. These results could be used to design and synthesize more multi-functional and effective decontamination materials.