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The MIT team used gold nanostructures to deliver a mix of drugs. The mixture is shown at the top. When it is hit with shorter wavelength infrared light the nanocapsules melt (bottom left). When longer wavelength light is used, the longer "nanobones" melt (bottom right).  (Source: Andy Wijaya)
New MIT designed gold nanostructures take aim at cancer and other ailments

Gold has fast become one of the most promising materials for building devices on a nanoscale level thanks to a number of favorable properties.  Among the applications of gold nanodevices is the use of gold particles to deliver drugs.  Gold nanoparticles range from small nanoclusters up to larger, more complex nanostructures.

MIT researchers used the latter to create one of the first examples of a two-drug delivery system.

Frequently, medical problems such as AIDS or cancer are best combated by a mix of drugs; however, drugs typically have different intervals they have to be taken on.  Thus, merely injecting a mix of nanoparticles coated in or containing drugs would not be sufficient.  A more complex delivery system was needed.

The MIT researchers decided to make use of an important property of gold nanoparticles.  Gold nanoparticles, based on their size and shape melt when exposed to certain wavelengths of infrared light.  In the case of drug-carrying hollow gold nanoparticles, the melting process can release drugs at specific locations in the body.

To implement a two drug delivery, researchers used two types of large hollow nanoparticles -- longer ones, which they nicknamed "nanobones", and shorter ones, which they nicknamed "nanocapsules".

The nanocapsules melted when exposed to 800 nm wavelength light.  The nanobones, left intact, then melt when the wavelength of the infrared light is turned up to 1100 nm.  The result is a system for delivering up to three or four drugs at independently controlled intervals.  States Andy Wijaya, graduate student in chemical engineering and lead author of the paper on the study, "Just by controlling the infrared wavelength, we can choose the release time (for each drug)."

Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli, assistant professor of biological and mechanical engineering who supervised the project, states, "With a lot of diseases, especially cancer and AIDS, you get a synergistic effect with more than one drug."

In the study the payload used was a strand of DNA.  The nanoparticles could be used for gene therapy, as they can pack hundreds of strands of DNA into a single particle.

The key to expanding the research to more drugs will be devising new nanostructures which will melt at different wavelengths.

The study on the work whose lead authors were Professor Hamad-Schifferli and Mr. Wijaya was published in the American Chemical Society journal Nano and can be found here.  Other authors on the paper include Stefan Schaffer and Ivan Pallares, who were National Science Foundation REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) summer students through the MIT Department of Biological Engineering in 2008.

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So does that mean?
By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 1:21:19 PM , Rating: 4
That an extremely potent injection of liquid cash will cure AIDS?

RE: So does that mean?
By Connoisseur on 12/31/2008 1:27:15 PM , Rating: 2
heh no wonder Magic Johnson is so healthy.

RE: So does that mean?
By xXxTweakxXx on 12/31/08, Rating: 0
RE: So does that mean?
By PhoenixKnight on 12/31/2008 1:30:58 PM , Rating: 2
So, you mean to say that if I throw stacks of hundred dollar bills in the blender, liquefy them, and drink it regularly, I'll be immune to disease? Sweet, I'm gonna go do that right now!

RE: So does that mean?
By UNHchabo on 12/31/2008 1:52:00 PM , Rating: 2
It has to be about $180,000 shot directly into the bloodstream. Any less won't work.

RE: So does that mean?
By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 1:54:30 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks. I couldn't remember the amount they used or I would've put it in there.

RE: So does that mean?
By Bruneauinfo on 12/31/2008 1:55:27 PM , Rating: 2
Screw you Cartman!

RE: So does that mean?
By jlips6 on 12/31/2008 2:04:15 PM , Rating: 2
no, now they can release smaller amounts of cash at different times producing a synergistic effect. without injections. now it only takes a $150,000 shot to cure AIDS, so long as it is implemented with gold nano-particles.

The fact that they're gold also means they help cure AIDS themselves.

RE: So does that mean?
By DeepBlue1975 on 1/2/2009 9:09:23 AM , Rating: 2
No surprise there... But remember the Beatles: "money can't buy me love". Though I admit that's not a problem at all for all of those who are only interested in some part of love alone :D

Been here
By nismotigerwvu on 1/1/2009 3:06:09 AM , Rating: 2
Dr. Mustafa El-Sayed of Georgia Tech has been doing this for years. In fact, I've been doing followups on his work for years. This isn't new, and we should all thank Dr. El-Sayed for his work in Photo-Dynamic Therapy before we give MIT any praise.

RE: Been here
By dj LiTh on 1/1/2009 7:57:38 AM , Rating: 2
i think a dailytech quote that i've seen at the bottom sums it up best

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

By sleepeeg3 on 1/1/2009 1:38:05 PM , Rating: 3
Why not just take pills at different times?

So, like the old saying...
By Fridayalex on 12/31/2008 6:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
A shot of Goldschläger a day keeps the cancer away

I think it's just me...
By rollakid on 12/31/2008 8:04:15 PM , Rating: 2
"Gold Ranger" pops into my head when I read the title.

Important Stuff
By dj LiTh on 12/31/2008 10:38:59 PM , Rating: 2
This is almost as important as cloning a Shake's Pizza restaurant!

All joking aside, this is very important stuff. Its not hard to kill cells that are infected with aids or cancer, its hard having the human being survive through the treatment. This will allow many drugs that werent able to be used before, to be used in much lower doses and affect the infected area. I believe i read about a year ago of another delivery system that pretty much does this same thing, but in a different way.

This has will be useful for many treatments in my mind. One question i have though is why gold, the only answer i could come up with is that its affected by the light spectrum moreso than other metals that have little effect on the body.

By excrucio on 1/2/2009 8:07:00 PM , Rating: 2
Get one method of nano particle fighting cancer, then create other methods?

Since nano stuff started to show up, including carbon nano tubes..all these scientist can do is create new methods, but never perfect one of them so we can end with the suffering.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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