Engineers create carbon nanopipettes that are smaller than cells and measure electric current

University of Pennsylvania engineers and physicians have developed a carbon nanopipette thousands of times thinner than a human hair that measures electric current and delivers fluids into cells. Researchers developed this tiny carbon-based tool to probe cells with minimal intrusion and inject fluids without damaging or inhibiting cell growth.

 

 

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Nanotechnology innovation may revolutionize gene detection in a single cell

Scientists at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute have developed the world’s first gene detection platform made up entirely from self-assembled DNA nanostructures. The results, appearing in the January 11 issue of the journal Science, could have broad implications for gene chip technology and may also revolutionize the way in which gene expression is analyzed in a single cell.

 

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Researchers aim to harness sperm power for nano-robots

Researchers at Cornell are working to use the same energy that drives sperm to power nanoscale robots or to deliver chemo drugs or antibiotics, for example, to targeted sites within the body. The findings were presented at the American Society for Cell Biology’s 47th annual meeting, Dec. 3, in Washington, D.C.
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Preclinical Results Report Radio Waves Fire Up Nanotubes Embedded In Tumors, Destroying Liver Cancer

Cancer cells treated with carbon nanotubes can be destroyed by non-invasive radio waves that heat up the nanotubes while sparing untreated tissue, a research team led by scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and Rice University has shown in preclinical experiments.

In a paper posted online ahead of December publication in the journal Cancer, researchers show that the technique completely destroyed liver cancer tumors in rabbits. There were no side effects noted. However, some healthy liver tissue within 2-5 millimeters of the tumors sustained heat damage due to nanotube leakage from the tumor.
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Nanotech Trojan Horse That Kills Cancer

Scientists have created the nanotechnology equivalent of a Trojan horse to smuggle a powerful chemotherapeutic drug inside tumor cells – increasing the drug’s cancer-killing activity and reducing its toxic side effects.

Previous studies in cell cultures have suggested that attaching anticancer drugs to nanoparticles for targeted delivery to tumor cells could increase the therapeutic response. Now, U-M scientists have shown that this nanotechnology-based treatment is effective in living animals.

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Nanomedicine opens the way for nerve cell regeneration

The ability to regenerate nerve cells in the body could reduce the effects of trauma and disease in a dramatic way. In two presentations at the NSTI Nanotech 2007 Conference, researchers describe the use of nanotechnology to enhance the regeneration of nerve cells. In the first method, developed at the University of Miami, researchers show how magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) may be used to create mechanical tension that stimulates the growth and elongation of axons of the central nervous system neurons. The second method from the University of California, Berkeley uses aligned nanofibers containing one or more growth factors to provide a bioactive matrix where nerve cells can regrow.
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Nanosingularity blog launched

I would like to point out that I have been posting nanotechnology related advances in my other blog called Nanosingularity for some time. The idea of nanosingularity remains similar to biosingularity, to follow major advances in the nanotech field. However, I should mention that I don’t consider myself an expert of this field and would highly encourage the readers who are knowledgable in the area to post comments on significance of the stories. I will continue to post here the nanotech advances related to biology.

Link to Nanosingularity

Scientists Locate And Treat Tumors Using Novel Technology, In Mice

Research teams at Yale University and the University of Rhode Island have demonstrated a new way to target and potentially treat tumors using a short piece of protein that acts like a nanosyringe to deliver “tags” or therapy to cells, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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pHLIP accumulation in a mouse breast tumor grown on the right flank of a mouse. (Credit: Engelman/Reshtnyak)
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Cells Selectively Absorb Short Nanotubes

DNA-wrapped single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) shorter than about 200 nanometers readily enter into human lung cells and so may pose an increased risk to health, according to scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

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Nanotube length threshold: NIST experiments using human lung cells demonstrate that DNA-wrapped single-walled carbon nanotubes longer than about 200 nanometers are excluded from cells, while shorter lengths are able to penetrate the cell interior (dark lines in the fluorescence image above).Credit: NIST
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Top Ten Cybernetic Upgrades Everyone Will Want

Science fiction, computer games, anime… cyborgs are everywhere. Transhumanists are philosophers who believe that one day, cybernetic upgrades will be so powerful, elegant, and inexpensive that everyone will want them. Michael Anissimov lists ten fascinating major upgrades that he thinks will be adopted by 2050 in his blog.

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Image credit: Edot-studios.

Nanoparticle Research Offers Hope of Artificial Retinas, Prostheses

The world’s first direct electrical link between nerve cells and photovoltaic nanoparticle films has been achieved by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and the University of Michigan. The development opens the door to applying the unique properties of nanoparticles to a wide variety of light-stimulated nerve-signaling devices — including the possible development of a nanoparticle-based artificial retina.

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Carbon Nanotubes versus HIV

Researchers at Stanford University have added one more trick to carbon nanotubes’ repertoire of accomplishments: a way to fight the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Chemistry professor Hongjie Dai and his colleagues have used carbon nanotubes to transport RNA into human white blood cells that defend the body from disease, making the cells less susceptible to HIV attack.

In a paper now online in the journal Angewandte Chemie, Dai and his colleagues describe attaching RNA to carbon nanotubes, which enter T cells and deliver the RNA. When the researchers placed T cells in a solution of the carbon nanotube-RNA complex, receptor proteins on the cell surfaces went down by 80 percent. Carbon nanotubes are known to enter many different types of human cells, although researchers don’t understand exactly how they do it. Some experts suspect that because of their long, thin shape, nanotubes enter cells much as a needle passes through skin.

Read rest of the story on Technology Review site

Super-thin membrane, 50 atoms thick, sorts individual molecules

A newly designed porous membrane, so thin it’s invisible edge-on, may revolutionize the way doctors and scientists manipulate objects as small as a molecule.

The 50-atom thick filter can withstand surprisingly high pressures and may be a key to better separation of blood proteins for dialysis patients, speeding ion exchange in fuel cells, creating a new environment for growing neurological stem cells, and purifying air and water in hospitals and clean-rooms at the nanoscopic level.

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Breakthrough in nanodevice synthesis revolutionizes biological sensors

A novel approach to synthesizing nanowires (NWs) allows their direct integration with microelectronic systems for the first time, as well as their ability to act as highly sensitive biomolecule detectors that could revolutionize biological diagnostic applications, according to a report in Nature.

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Caption: Schematic of nanowire sensors operating in solution. Credit Yale University.
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Nanoparticle assembly enters the fast lane

The speed of nanoparticle assembly can be accelerated with the assistance of the molecule that carries life’s genetic instructions, DNA, a team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory recently found. Nanoparticles, particles with dimensions on the order of billionths of a meter, could potentially be used for more efficient energy generation and data storage, as well as improved methods for diagnosing and treating disease. Learning how to control and tailor the assembly of these miniscule particles into larger functional systems remains a major challenge for scientists.
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Homing nanoparticles pack multiple assault on tumors

Scientists have developed nanoparticles that seek out tumors and bind to their blood vessels, and then attract more nanoparticles to the tumor target. Using this system they demonstrated that the homing nanoparticle could be used to deliver a “payload” of an imaging compound, and in the process act as a clotting agent, obstructing as much as 20% of the tumor blood vessels.
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Researchers use laser, nanotechnology to rapidly detect viruses

Waiting a day or more to get lab results back from the doctor’s office soon could become a thing of a past. Using nanotechnology, a team of University of Georgia researchers has developed a diagnostic test that can detect viruses as diverse as influenza, HIV and RSV in 60 seconds or less.

In addition to saving time, the technique – which is detailed in the November issue of the journal Nano Letters – could save lives by rapidly detecting a naturally occurring disease outbreak or bioterrorism attack.
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Researchers Create DNA Logic Circuits That Work in Test Tubes

Computers and liquids are not very compatible, as many a careless coffee-drinking laptop owner has discovered. But a new breakthrough by researchers at the California Institute of Technology could result in future logic circuits that literally work in a test tube–or even in the human body.

In the current issue of the journal Science, a Caltech group led by computer scientist Erik Winfree reports that they have created DNA logic circuits that work in salt water, similar to an intracellular environment. Such circuits could lead to a biochemical microcontroller, of sorts, for biological cells and other complex chemical systems. The lead author of the paper is Georg Seelig, a postdoctoral scholar in Winfree’s lab.
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Researchers show that DNA gets kinky easily at the nanoscale

Scientists have answered a long-standing molecular stumper regarding DNA: How can parts of such a rigid molecule bend and coil without requiring large amounts of force? According to a team of researchers from the United States and the Netherlands, led by a physicist from the University of Pennsylvania, DNA is much more flexible than previously believed when examined over extremely small lengths. They used a technique called atomic force microscopy to determine the amount of energy necessary to bend DNA over nano-size lengths (about a million times smaller than a printed letter).
Continue reading “Researchers show that DNA gets kinky easily at the nanoscale”

Technique reveals inner lives of red blood cells

For the first time, researchers at MIT can see every vibration of a cell membrane, using a technique that could one day allow scientists to create three-dimensional images of the inner workings of living cells.

Studying cell membrane dynamics can help scientists gain insight into diseases such as sickle cell anemia, malaria and cancer. Using a technique known as quantitative phase imaging, researchers at MIT’s George R. Harrison Spectroscopy Laboratory can see cell membrane vibrations as tiny as a few tens of nanometers (billionths of a meter).
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Immune cell communication key to hunting viruses

Immunologists at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have used nanotechnology to create a novel “biosensor” to solve in part a perplexing problem in immunology: how immune system cells called killer T-cells hunt down invading viruses.

They found that surprisingly little virus can turn on the killer T-cells, thanks to some complicated communication among so-called “antigen presenting” proteins that recognize and attach to the virus, in turn, making it visible to the immune system. T-cell receptors then “see” the virus, activating the T-cells.
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Researchers develop DNA switch to interface living organisms with computers

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth, UK, have developed an electronic switch based on DNA – a world-first bio-nanotechnology breakthrough that provides the foundation for the interface between living organisms and the computer world.

The new technology is called a ‘nanoactuator’ or a molecular dynamo. The device is invisible to the naked eye – about one thousandth of a strand of human hair.
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Researchers make nanosheets that mimic protein formation

How to direct and control the self-assembly of nanoparticles is a fundamental question in nanotechnology.

University of Michigan researchers have discovered a way to make nanocrystals in a fluid assemble into free-floating sheets the same way some protein structures form in living organisms.
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Nano Probe May Open New Window Into Cell Behavior

Georgia Tech researchers have created a nanoscale probe, the Scanning Mass Spectrometry (SMS) probe, that can capture both the biochemical makeup and topography of complex biological objects in their normal environment — opening the door for discovery of new biomarkers and improved gene studies, leading to better disease diagnosis and drug design on the cellular level. The research was presented in the July issue of IEE Electronics Letters.

Georgia Tech’s SMS Probe gently pulls biomolecules precisely at a specific point on the cell/tissue surface, ionizes these biomolecules and produces “dry” ions suitable for analysis and then transports those ions to the mass spectrometer.
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Engineers Use DNA to Direct Nanowire Assembly and Growth

A growing number of engineers are using nature’s engineer – DNA – to create nanomaterials that can be used in everything from medical devices to computer circuits. A team from Brown University and Boston College is the first to use DNA to direct construction and growth of complex nanowires. Their work appears in Nanotechnology. Continue reading “Engineers Use DNA to Direct Nanowire Assembly and Growth”

Reprogramming Biology

Visionary futurist Ray Kurzweil, whose remarkable ideas on technological progress have been an inspiration for Biosingularity blogs, have a wonderful concise article on biological advances in recent issue of Scientific American

As a scientist working on biological systems I fully agree and whole heartedly support Kurzweil's observations that: " Biology is now in the early stages of an historic transition to an information science, while also gaining the tools to reprogram the ancient information systems of life ….. We are now beginning to understand biology as a set of information processes, and we're developing realistic models and simulations of how the processes involved in disease and aging progress. Moreover, we are developing the tools to reprogram them."

In the article Kurzweil predicts that tinkering with our genetic programs will extend human lifespan beyond the current limits. He also reiterates that biological systems are also subject to the "law of accelerating returns", which had tremendous impact on information technologies. Indeed, the cost of sequencing and synthesizing gene base pairs have decreased more than 10,000 fold over the last 15 years, and this exponential progress is currently accelerating as predicted by Kurzweil in his recent book. 

Read rest of the article at Scientific American web site.
 

Anti-Aging Molecule Discovered

A team of South Korean scientists on Sunday claimed to have created a “cellular fountain of youth,’’ or a small molecule, which enables human cells to avoid aging and dying.

The team, headed by Prof. Kim Tae-kook at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, argued the newly-synthesized molecule, named CGK733, can even make cells younger.

The findings were featured by the Nature Chemical Biology online early today and will be printed as a cover story in the journal’s offline edition early next month. There is also good analysis of this discovery at Fight Aging Blogs Continue reading “Anti-Aging Molecule Discovered”

Battery electrodes self-assembled by viruses

Genetically modified viruses that assemble into electrodes could one day revolutionise battery manufacturing.

Researchers in the US have created viruses that automatically coat themselves in metals and line up head to tail to form an efficient battery anode – the negatively charged component that channels electrons to generate current. These nanowires could be used to make revolutionary new forms of lithium-ion batteries, the researchers say.

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Biological motors sort molecules one by one on a chip

Researchers from Delft University of Technology's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience have discovered how to use the motors of biological cells in extremely small channels on a chip. Based on this, they built a transport system that uses electrical charges to direct the molecules individually. To demonstrate this, the Delft researchers sorted the individual molecules according to their color. Professor Hess of the University of Florida has called the Delft discovery "the first traffic control system in biomolecular motor nanotechnology".

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Nanoparticles armed to combat cancer

Ultra-small particles loaded with medicine – and aimed with the precision of a rifle – are offering a promising new way to strike at cancer, according to researchers working at MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

In a paper to appear the week of April 10 in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team reports a way to custom design nanoparticles so they home in on dangerous cancer cells, then enter the cells to deliver lethal doses of chemotherapy. Normal, healthy cells remain unscathed.

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Researchers Grow Bone Cells On Carbon Nanotubes

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have published findings that show, for the first time, that bone cells can grow and proliferate on a scaffold of carbon nanotubes. Scientists found that the nanotubes, 100,000 times finer than a human hair, are an excellent scaffold for bone cells to grow on.

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Scientists demonstrate nanotech artificial muscles powered by highly energetic fuels

University of Texas at Dallas nanotechnologists have made alcohol- and hydrogen-powered artificial muscles that are 100 times stronger than natural muscles, able to do 100 times greater work per cycle and produce, at reduced strengths, larger contractions than natural muscles. Among other possibilities, these muscles could enable fuel-powered artificial limbs, “smart skins” and morphing structures for air and marine vehicles, autonomous robots having very long mission capabilities and smart sensors that detect and self-actuate to change the environment.

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MIT researchers use nanofibers to restore vision in blinded rodents

Rodents blinded by a severed tract in their brains’ visual system had their sight partially restored within weeks, thanks to a tiny biodegradable scaffold invented by MIT bioengineers and neuroscientists.

This technique, which involves giving brain cells an internal matrix on which to regrow, just as ivy grows on a trellis, may one day help patients with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and stroke.
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Transistor-Cantilever Combo Detects Biomolecules With High Sensitivity

Reseachers coupled a microcantilever with a metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor to yield a device that generates a direct electrical signal whenever the cantilever bends in response to biomolecule binding.

It is capable of detecting bending of as little as five nanometers, sufficient to reliably detect binding of DNA, antibodies, and prostate specific antigen (PSA) to the microcantilevers.

It can also be mass-produced using standard computer chip design and manufacturing techniques.

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Fluorescent Nanosensor Detects Cell Death

A team of investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital has developed a nanoparticle that signals when cells are undergoing apoptosis, the kind of cell death triggered by cancer therapies. The new nanoparticles could finally provide oncologists with a rapid assay that could tell them that a given therapy is working. This groundbreaking work was published in the journal Nano Letters.
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DNA-wrapped carbon nanotubes serve as sensors in living cells

Single walled carbon nanotubes wrapped with DNA can be placed inside living cells and detect trace amounts of harmful contaminants using near infrared light, report researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their discovery opens the door to new types of optical sensors and biomarkers that exploit the unique properties of nanoparticles in living systems.

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A component of proteins acts as powerful “nanosprings”

A component of many proteins has been found to constitute one of the most powerful and resilient molecular “springs” in nature, researchers have discovered.

The scientists say their discovery could lead to a new understanding of mechanical processes within the living cell. The discovery also could provide potent nanoscale “shock absorbers” or “gate-opening springs” in tiny nanomachines.

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Polymer nanoparticles eradicate tumors

Photodynamic therapy (PDT), which uses a light-sensitive chemical known as a photosensitizer to produce cell-killing “reactive oxygen,” has become an important option for the treatment of esophageal cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Current photosensitizers, however, produce significant side effects, including sensitivity to the sun, that limits their wider use in treating cancer.

In an attempt to both eliminate those side effects and increase the anticancer activity of photosensitizers, researchers from MIT-Harvard Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, has developed a polymer nanoparticle to ferry photosensitizers into cancer cells, where they can then unleash their potent cell-killing effects.

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Combination of gold nanoparticles and radiation could be a treatment for Alzheimer’s

Chemists have identified a new approach for the possible treatment of Alzheimer’s disease that they say has the potential to destroy beta-amyloid fibrils and plaque — hypothesized to contribute to the mental decline of Alzheimer’s patients. The researchers say the new technique, which they call a type of “molecular surgery,” could halt or slow the disease’s progress without harming healthy brain cells.

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Physicists create first robust DNA building blocks for use in nanofabrication

Physicists from the University of Oxford have designed the first structurally robust, self-assembling DNA building blocks. The DNA tetrahedra, 10,000,000,000 (ten thousand million) of which could fit on the head of a pin, could lead to the manufacture of complex nanostructures such as powerful electrical circuits. Continue reading “Physicists create first robust DNA building blocks for use in nanofabrication”

Modified Atomic Force Microscopy Proves Critical to Uncovering Cell-growth Secret

Researchers using a customized atomic force microscope (AFM) have discovered new evidence for how the fibrous scaffolding within our cells, which is made of the protein actin, responds to obstacles in its environment.

The discovery demonstrates a technique for tracking a cell’s growth history, and if it proves valid outside of the laboratory, researchers may one day look for actin-growth clues while tracking the pathways of spreading cancers, immune cells, and other free-moving cells that crawl throughout the body.
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Quantum Dots Nanosensor Detects DNA

Using tiny semiconductor crystals, biological probes and a laser, Johns Hopkins University engineers have developed a new method of finding specific sequences of DNA by making them light up beneath a microscope. The researchers, who say the technique will have important uses in medical research, demonstrated its potential in their lab by detecting a sample of DNA containing a mutation linked to ovarian cancer.

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Fantastic Voyage Into The Heart Delivers A Protector Against Heart Failure

Reminiscent of the 1966 sci-fi thriller Fantastic Voyage, where a surgical team is miniaturized and injected into a dying man, researchers from Harvard Medical School have used injectable self-assembling peptide nanofibers loaded with the pro-survival factor PDGF-BB to protect rat cardiomyocytes from injury and subsequent heart failure.
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Cell-based Nano Machine Breaks Record

Researchers have known for some time that a long, fibrous coil grown by a single-cell protozoan is, gram for gram, more powerful than a car engine. Now, researchers at Whitehead Institute have found that this coil is far stronger than previously thought. In addition, the researchers have discovered clues into the mechanism behind this microscopic powerhouse.

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DNA ‘Wires’ for Future Medical Devices Developed

Uncoiled strands of DNA, organized in precise patterns, one day might become the backbone of biologically based electronics and medical devices, according to L. James Lee, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio State University. His team of scientists has made the first step in creating the nanowires of the future by uncoiling and organising long strands of DNA.

In the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Lee and postdoctoral researcher Jingjiao Guan describe how they used a tiny rubber comb to pull DNA strands from drops of water and stamp them onto glass chips.
Other labs have formed very simple structures with DNA, and those are now used in devices for gene testing and medical diagnostics. But Lee and Guan are the first to coax strands of DNA into structures that are at once so orderly and so complex that they resemble stitches on a quilt.
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Converting Carbon Nanotubes into RNA-Degrading Nano-Enzymes

The researchers and scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign have achieved a major breakthrough in utilizing nanotechnology. The team of researchers has been successful in combining a DNA-based enzyme with a carbon nanotube; they have successfully combined the DNA based enzyme and have converting Carbon Nanotubes into RNA-Degrading Nano-Enzymes. Thus they have created a nanoscale device capable of degrading specific sequences of RNA.

Such a device is capable of providing a novel approach to treat cancer. This device would be quite a beneficial instrument in cancer therapy as it would be enabling researchers to block a cancer cell’s production of proteins needed to maintain a cancerous state.

Continue reading “Converting Carbon Nanotubes into RNA-Degrading Nano-Enzymes”

Collection of new nanoparticles seek out different cancer cells

Dr. Ralph Weissleder at Harvard Medical School and his colleagues are developing nanoparticles that can emit either magnetic or optical signals. The hope is to coat these nanoparticles with compounds that help guide their way toward specific cells. Such coated nanoparticles could then single out tumor cells to help physicians detect where they are in the body, even if they are few in number and otherwise unnoticeable.

Continue reading “Collection of new nanoparticles seek out different cancer cells”