By Taylor NewmanPosted 09.24.2009 at 3:50 pm 0 Comments
For patients with conditions like cancer, diabetes and chronic pain, taking drugs orally is often insufficient; a more precise and flexible on/off dosing schedule controlled by an implanted device can provide better treatment based on day-to-day--or minute-by-minute--conditions.
While various methods for regulating drug-dispensing implants exist (including implanted heat sources and electronic chips), a new device with a membrane of magnetic nanoparticles can be controlled simply by applying a magnetic field.
Remember when, as a kid, you would pen secret messages with "disappearing ink" by writing on paper with lemon juice? A team of researchers at Northwestern have taken the idea just a little bit further, engineering a nanoparticle ink that fades away at a predetermined time, keeping maps or messages away from spying eyes.
Two women in China have achieved the dubious honor of being the first humans to be killed by nanotechnology. The women, who worked in a poorly ventilated factory spraying a paint that contained nanoparticles, reportedly inhaled the particles over a period of months. The tiny compounds infiltrated the workers' lungs and skin, causing lung damage, fluid buildup, and eventual respiratory failure.
Brain cancer is a classic double whammy: the extremely invasive form of cancer is both deadly and difficult to treat. Fortunately, there's a promising solution on the table: tumor painting.
Because brain cancer tends to invade surrounding healthy brain tissue, it blurs the line between tumor and non-tumor tissue, and makes it difficult for surgeons to circumvent the healthy parts of the brain when they saw away at the tumor. On top of that, current imaging techniques produce fairly imprecise representations of the tissue, which only compounds the problem.
Remember when, as a kid, you would pass “top-secret” notes written in lemon juice that your friends could only read in the right light? Well, in light of new nanotechnology research, this now sounds absurdly antiquated, like cave painting in the modern era. Instead, the youth of tomorrow (and adults too) could have the option to communicate via documents that self-erase at a preprogrammed time.
Call us obsessed, but we can't get enough high-speed video. The scientists at GE turned us on to this footage of water bouncing off a superhydrophobic surface. As the droplets come into contact with the extremely water-resistant surface (in this case, some unknown nanoparticle-based surface, possibly nanopin film), they smash into bits and rearrange Terminator-style, bounce like a basketball and generally retain their perfect-droplet shape.
Earlier this year, Francesco Stellacci announced that his group had developed a material that can suck 20 times its weight in oil out of a sample of water. The material could be used to clean up massive crude spills, and chemist Joerg Lahann of the University of Michigan called the work a blueprint for scientists who hope to design nanomaterials that protect the environment. Yet Stellacci doesn’t consider this his best work. He’s excited about tricking cells.
Tiny strings of drug-laden iron particles could kill tumors
By Arnie CooperPosted 10.10.2008 at 12:15 pm 19 Comments
“Cancer treatments have hit a wall,” says chemist Michael J. Sailor of the University of California at San Diego. Today’s chemotherapy drugs leave the body too quickly, and both chemo and radiation kill healthy cells indiscriminately, he explains. So he has developed “nanoworms,” strings of iron-oxide particles that could swim through your blood to kill nascent cancerous tumors—and nothing else.
Scientists use magnetic nanoparticles to reign in cancer cells
By Molika AshfordPosted 07.17.2008 at 3:19 pm 1 Comment
Catching cancer before it metastasizes, or spreads throughout the body, is one way to increase your chances of survival. Now scientists may have found a way to help even when cancer is already on the move, by using magnets to lasso cancer cells and drag them out of the body. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have shown that magnetic nanoparticles—tiny shards of magnetic metal, less than a hundred thousandths of an inch in diameter—can be attached to cancer cells, which can then be manipulated and moved with another magnet.
MIT scientists say they've found a new way to silence disease-causing genes in specific tissues using RNA interference
By Gregory MonePosted 04.28.2008 at 12:55 pm 10 Comments
For years scientists have been touting a disease-fighting technique called RNA interference. The idea behind it is pretty simple: By piggybacking on the body's own system for silencing genes, researchers think they could stop troublesome proteins from being produced, and, as a result, halt the damage those proteins cause. The trick, though, is that scientists have had a hard time figuring out how to make RNAi, as it's known, work on specific tissues.