Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Octacoss!

The Octacoss is upon us! Run for your lives... A recent cover from OBC introduces the latest terror to be unearthed from the depths of the seven scientific seas.

Watch out the Octacoss is about

The Octacoss
This new monster is staring with unblinking eyes, piercing the soul of any unsuspecting readers. But you'd soon forgive him any harm done, as he is rather cute.

The little pink guy is wrapping his far-reaching tentacles around a number of useful objects found lying on the bed of any well stocked laboratory sea. Coral dendrimers; often showing fascinating fractal patterns which may increase the tentacle's reach. Starfish labels; not the usual prey of our 8-legged friends and so instead used undoubtedly as a tool (perhaps a ninja throwing star). Anchor linkers; holding the beast in place and catching any passersby hook, line and sinker.

Boldly displayed on his chest, the creature is showing off a rather geeky tattoo. A chemical schematic of a silsesquioxane with the 8 branches shooting off down his 8 tentacles. The artists have given a wonderfully fun, if not overly dramatic representation of their cubic structure. However, we should now be considering whether a journal cover is the right place to show such ridiculous images. As other academics are likely to be the only people viewing it, will it interest them? There are not many chances for this kind of expression in a field that is often overly serious about itself and so in my opinion, yes, why not have a bit of fun. It's big, it's bold, it's a little bit silly, but it definitely draws you in and it sent me looking up what these silsesquithingys are all about.

Putting the Octa in Octacoss

The Paper: Bioconjugation on cube-octameric silsesquioxanes
Found at: Org. Biomol. Chem., 2013, 11, 2224-2236

The article is a review of recent advances in the modification of these highly symmetric structures. COSS are cube-octameric silsesquioxanes, therefore OCTACOSS are octa cube-octameric silsesquioxanes. The authors seem to have developed an all too common case of RAS syndrome.

It is the biochemical elements in this review that make it stand out (as well as the delightful octopus). COSS are not particularly new structures having first been synthesised in 1955. But the functionalisation and recent biological applications are importantly highlighted.

The high stability and low toxicity of the core structures is discussed in the article. Particular attention is then paid by the authors to the bioconjugation and self-assembly of glycoclusters for studying lectin binding and the use of dendrimer constructs for drug delivery. The review finishes with an analysis of the "most advanced application" of COSS scaffolds as molecular probes. A decent review overall, covering a wide range of uses for a not so monstrous creation.

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