Researchers have remotely activated genes inside living animals, a proof of concept that could one day lead to medical procedures in which patients’ genes are triggered on demand.
The work, in which a team used radio waves to switch on engineered insulin-producing genes in mice, is published today in Science1.
Jeffrey Friedman, a molecular geneticist at the Rockefeller University in New York and lead author of the study, says that in the short term, the results will lead to better tools to allow scientists to manipulate cells non-invasively. But with refinement, he thinks, clinical applications could also be possible.
Drug-smuggling nanoparticles could be the latest recruits in the fight againstcancer. The first results from early-stage trials show that cancer drugs couriered by nanoparticles may reduce the size of tumours in humans.
Researchers from BIND Biosciences in Boston filled nanoparticles with the cancer drug docetaxel and injected them into the blood of 17 people who had cancers that are normally resistant to the drug. Forty-two days later, two of the volunteers’ tumours had shrunk in size significantly, and the rest of the volunteers’ tumours had not grown.
Researchers at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) have created nanoparticles which could release drugs directly from the cells’ interior. The technology, which has been named “nanopills,” was licensed to the firm Janus Developments of the Barcelona Scientific Park, which verified its tolerance by administering it in vivo.
UAB researchers developed a new vehicle to release proteins with therapeutic effects. This is known as “bacteria-inclusion bodies,” stable insoluble nanoparticles which normally are found in recombinant bacteria. Even though these inclusion bodies traditionally have been an obstacle in the industrial production of soluble enzymes and biodrugs, they were recently recognised as having large amounts of functional proteins with direct values in industrial and biomedical applications.
Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have developed a robotic device made from DNA that could potentially seek out specific cell targets within a complex mixture of cell types and deliver important molecular instructions, such as telling cancer cells to self-destruct. Inspired by the mechanics of the body’s own immune system, the technology might one day be used to program immune responses to treat various diseases. The research findings appear today in Science.
A small company called ChamTech Operations based in Utah has developed a nanoparticle mix that can be sprayed on any vertical object—like a tree—and make that object act as a high-powered antenna.
Not only can the sprayed-on nanoparticles make trees into antennas, but it can also extend the range of an existing antenna by a factor of 100, according to one of the principals of the company, Anthony Sutera. For instance, in RFID tags the nanoparticle spray extended the readable range of the tag from a mere five feet (1.5 meters) to 700 feet (200 m).
The material that Chamtech came up with contains nanoparticles that when sprayed on a surface act as nanocapacitors. The nanocapacitors charge and discharge very quickly and don’t create any heat that can reduce the efficiency of your typical copper antenna. The trick was to get the nanocapacitors to spread out in just the right pattern.
Another intriguing application, Sutera suggests in the video, is using the spray-on material in the white lines of the highway. This could make it possible to have high bandwidth connectivity in your car.
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