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Nanomedicine

A drop of liquid sits on the textured silicon surface that has arced rungs to guide the dr...

Lately we’re hearing more and more about tiny medical and environmental diagnostic devices, that can perform a variety of tests using very small fluid samples. Working with such small samples does present a challenge, however – how do you thoroughly mix tiny amounts of different fluids, or wrangle individual drops for analysis? According to a team of scientists from the University of Washington, the answer lies in the lotus leaf.  Read More

The nanobubbles are short-lived events that expand and burst, thus creating a small hole i...

U.S. researchers are developing a promising new approach to the targeting of individual cancer cells. The technique uses light-harvesting nanoparticles to convert laser energy into “plasmonic nanobubbles,” enabling drugs to be injected directly into the cancer cells through small holes created in the surface. Researchers claim that the delivery of chemotherapy drugs in this way is up to 30 times more effective on cancer cells than traditional drug treatments and requires less than one-tenth the clinical dose.  Read More

The programmable DNA nanorobot developed by Wyss Institute researchers is shaped like a ba...

We've seen various experimental approaches that aim to increase the efficacy of chemotherapy while also reducing its damaging side effects by specifically targeting cancer cells. The latest encouraging development comes from Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering where researchers have created a barrel-like robotic device made from DNA that could carry molecular instructions into specific cells and tell them to self-destruct. Because the DNA-based device could be programmed to target a variety of cells, it could be used to treat a range of diseases in addition to providing hope in the fight against cancer.  Read More

Prototype of Purdue's new rap music-powered implantable pressure sensor

We've been following the evolution of patient-embedded medical sensors for some time - miniature devices that run on batteries, transcutaneous (through-the-skin) induced current, even sugar and provide constant monitoring of various metabolic parameters. Now, a team from Purdue University's Birck Nanotechnology Center has developed a prototype pressure sensor which promises to address the shortcomings of previous designs and utilizes a novel power supply: the acoustic energy from bass-heavy riffs of rap music.  Read More

Optical microscope picture of an antenna structure with nano-antennas built into its cente...

We recently looked at one of the potential contenders in the US$10 million Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE, which as the name suggests, was inspired by the medical tricorder of Star Trek fame. Now scientists have developed a new way of creating Terahertz (THz) or T-rays, which they say could help make handheld devices with tricorder-like capabilities a reality.  Read More

Each nanochannel electroporation device incorporates two reservoirs joined by a nanoscale ...

One of the key processes in gene therapy involves taking cells from the patient, injecting a therapeutic genetic material into them, then reintroducing them to the patient’s body and letting them go to work. Unfortunately, getting that material into the cells can be tricky. While larger cells can actually be punctured with a fine needle, most human cells are too small for that approach to be possible. There are also methods of inserting random amounts of material into bulk quantities of cells, but these are inexact. Now, however, scientists at Ohio State University are reporting success with a process known as “nanochannel electroporation” (NEP), in which therapeutic biomolecules are electrically shot into cells.  Read More

A scanning electron microscope image of the nanowire-alginate composite scaffolds, showing...

Around the world, scientists have been working on ways of replacing the heart tissue that dies when a heart attack occurs. These efforts have resulted in heart "patches" that are made from actual cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells), or that encourage surrounding heart cells to grow into them. One problem with some such patches, however, lies in the fact that that they consist of cardiomyocytes set within a scaffolding of poorly-conductive materials. This means that they are insulated from the electrical signals sent out by the heart, so they don't expand and contract as the heart beats. Scientists at MIT, however, may be on the way to a solution.  Read More

The miniature device (right) that fits inside a tube (left) and can then be inserted into ...

Some cancers, such as pancreatic and cervical cancers, are notoriously hypoxic, which means they contain low oxygen levels. Because radiation therapy needs oxygen to be effective, hypoxic areas of a tumor can be difficult to kill. To combat this, researchers at Purdue University have developed and tested a miniature electronic device that is designed to be implanted into solid tumors to generate oxygen and boost the effectiveness of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.  Read More

A new tool for researching neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's takes its inspir...

In order to detect the presence of nearby females, the male silk moth utilizes an oily coating on his antennae. Any female pheromone molecules that are in the air will stick to that coating, which then guides them through nanotunnels in the insect's exoskeleton, and ultimately to nerve cells that alert Mr. Moth to the fact that there are ladies in the area. It's a clever enough system that scientists from the University of Michigan have copied it, in hopes of better understanding neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.  Read More

Project lead researcher Dr. Stefan Bon

One of the promising areas in the field of nanomedicine is the development of vesicles – microscopic polymer sacs, designed to deliver a payload of medication to specific sites in the body. Unfortunately, the body’s immune system often sees these vesicles as intruders, sending antibodies to thwart them in their mission. Now, drawing inspiration from plankton and bacteria, chemists from the University of Warwick are developing armor coatings that should help vesicles to withstand or avoid those attacks.  Read More

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