Friday, August 28, 2009

Lots of developments in nanomedicine this week: Scientists have discovered a potential new drug delivery system. They developed a peptide, a small piece of protein that can carry "cargo" for delivery into the cell. The cargo could be a nanoparticle, or even a cell. Riding on the peptide, the cargo gets out of the blood vessel and penetrates the tissue.

New DNA test uses nanotechnology to find early signs of cancer. Based on quantum dots, a new test, which detects both the presence and the quantity of certain DNA changes, could alert people who are at risk of developing the disease and could tell doctors how well a particular cancer treatment is working.

DNA test uses quantum dots to find early signs of cancer

In this illustration, quantum dots are depicted as gold spheres that attract DNA strands linked to cancer risks. When the quantum dots are exposed to certain types of light, they transfer the energy to fluorescent molecules, shown as pink globes, that emit a glow. This enables researchers to detect and count the DNA strands linked to cancer.

In a third nanomedicine-related story, researchers have successfully developed a novel electronic sensor array – called the Nanogap Sensor Array – for more rapid, accurate and cost-efficient testing of DNA for disease diagnosis and biological research.

On to nanoelectronics: Stanford researchers have developed a method of stacking and purifying crystal layers that may pave the way for three-dimensional microchips. The scientists added tiny germanium crystals in the shape of nanowires to a sheet of silicon, and then topped it with a layer of germanium. With heat, the nanowires and the germanium topping took on the crystal structure of the silicon.

A hybrid of silicon nanocircuits and biological components that mimics some of the processes that control the passage of molecules into and out of cells has been created by a team of scientists from UC Davis, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and UC Berkeley. The lipid-coated nanocircuits could lead to the development of new classes of bio-sensing tools and biological applications, such as comprehensive blood-chemistry tests that fit on the point of a needle or screening tools for the development of new drugs.

IBM scientists have been able to image the 'anatomy – or chemical structure – inside a molecule with unprecedented resolution, using a complex technique known as noncontact atomic force microscopy. Watch the video:

Solar cells could soon be produced more cheaply using nanoparticle "inks" that allow them to be printed like newspaper or painted onto the sides of buildings or rooftops to absorb electricity-producing sunlight.

Chinese researchers demonstrate that nanofabrication technologies can be advanced by ingenious structure of biofilms. While biofilms are mostly seen from a point of view of pathogenic threats, their complex frameworks with biological behavior, chemical heterogeneity, and physical structure at micro- or even nanoscopic level, could also be useful in nanofabrication – each of these properties can be an attractive avenue for the development of nanotechnology and material science.

And, of course, don't miss Nanowerk's new series: Ten things you sould know about nanotechnology.