Monday, May 08, 2006

More coverage of medical nano applications

Nano may soon allow amputees to better control prosthetic devices and help scientists build nanoparticles that hunt and destroy cancer cells, according to studies released by Triton BioSystems and the University of Texas Medical Branch.

In medicine, small is about to become big: Nanotechnology is poised to make huge leaps in the treatment of disease at the cellular level

By Stephen Heuser, Globe Staff | May 8, 2006

CHICAGO -- In a darkened conference room, at the country's largest gathering of biotech e
xecutives, the slides clicked onto the screen with as much punch and drama as a black-and-white micrograph can pack.

In the first frame, highly magnified cancer cells appeared, surrounded by tiny black dots. In the second frame, cells were gone -- dissolved into a mass of goo.

The tiny black dots were manmade particles that hunt down cancer cells and perch around their edges. The particles start heating up when hit with a powerful magnetic field. The effect on a cancer cell is not unlike that of a hammer on a water balloon.

''People think it's unbelievable that such a technology exists," said Samuel Straface, who had shown the slides only to a handful of potential investors before presenting them at the Biotech Industry Organization conference last month.
(For the full article, click here.)

The article refers to Triton BioSystem’s Targeted Nano-Therapeutics™ (TNT™) System. Here’s a summary graph on the principle behind the cancer-killing technology from their web site:

The second story is about nanotube structures that help cells grow or serve as an interface between living tissue and prosthetic devices. The study appeared in the most recent issue of Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology:

Biocompatibility of Native and Functionalized Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes for Neuronal Interface, Anton V. Liopo, Michael P. Stewart, Jared Hudson, James M. Tour, and Todd C. Pappas, J. Nanosci. Nanotechnol. 6, 1365–1374 (2006)

Here’s the press release by UTMB:
Nanotubes used for first time to send signals to nerve cells

GALVESTON, Texas --Texas scientists have added one more trick to the amazing repertoire of carbon nanotubes -- the ability to carry electrical signals to nerve cells.

Nanotubes, tiny hollow carbon filaments about one ten-thousandth the diameter of a human hair, are already famed as one of the most versatile materials ever discovered. A hundred times as strong as steel and one-sixth as dense, able to conduct electricity better than copper or to substitute for silicon in semiconductor chips, carbon nanotubes have been proposed as the basis for everything from elevator cables that could lift payloads into Earth orbit to computers smaller than human cells.

Thin films of carbon nanotubes deposited on transparent plastic can also serve as a surface on which cells can grow. And as researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and Rice University suggest in a paper published in the May issue of the Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, these nanotube films could potentially serve as an electrical interface between living tissue and prosthetic devices or biomedical instruments.

(For the full press release, click here.)