The novel synthesis of metal-containing biohybrids using self-assembly methods at physiological temperatures (37 °C) was compared for copper and silver using the amino acid dimer cystine. Once assembled, the copper containing biohybrid is a stable, high-aspect ratio structure, which we call CuHARS. Using the same synthesis conditions, but replacing copper with silver, we have synthesized cystine-capped silver nanoparticles (AgCysNPs), which are shown here to form stable colloid solutions in contrast to the CuHARS, which settle out from a 1 mg/mL solution in 90 min. Both the copper and silver biohybrids, as synthesized, demonstrate very low agglomeration which we have applied for the purpose of applications with cell culture methods, namely, for testing as anti-cancer compounds. AgCysNPs (1000 ng/mL) demonstrated significant toxicity (only 6.8% viability) to glioma and neuroblastoma cells in vitro, with concentrations as low as 20 ng/mL causing some toxicity. In contrast, CuHARS required at least 5 μg/mL. For comparative purposes, silver sulfate at 100 ng/mL decreased viability by 52% and copper sulfate at 100 ng/mL only by 19.5% on glioma cells. Using these methods, the novel materials were tested here as metal–organic biohybrids (MOBs), and it is anticipated that the functionalization and dynamics of MOBs may result in building a foundation of new materials for cellular applications, including cell engineering of both normal and diseased cells and tissue constructs.
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