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UCLA researchers call the nanoimpeller an exciting first development in nanomachine treatments for cancer

Nanotechnology may hold the ability for medicine to treat and cure many diseases and illnesses previously deemed impractical by current methods. Tiny nanotechnology devices may one day swarm through the circulatory system of the ill looking for cancer cells to destroy.

Before this can happen, nanotechnology has to evolve to a level where it is effective and safe to use on humans. Researchers at UCLA are one step closer to having a viable and effective nanotechnology treatment for cancer today. Researchers from the Nano Machine Center at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA have developed a new nanomachine that can capture and store anticancer drugs. The tiny nano machines are called “nanoimpellers” and store anticancer medications inside tiny pores and release the drugs directly into cancer cells in response to light.

Researchers say that the new development has major implications for the treatment of some cancers. The study was conducted jointly by Jeffrey Zink and Fuyu Tamanoi. Zink is a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry, Tamanoi is a UCLA professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics.

The cancer fighting nanomachine developed by the researchers uses mesoporous silica nanoparticles with interiors of the pores coated with azobenzene. Azobenzene is a chemical that can oscillate between two conformations with light exposure.

The researchers found that the nanoimpellers were taken up by cancer cells and that when light was applied to the area where the cancer was located the nanoimpellers released the anticancer drug payload directly into the cancer cells. Confocal microscopic images showed that the operation of the nanoimpeller can be regulated precisely depending on the intensity of the light, excitation time and specific wavelength.

Zink said in a statement, “We developed a mechanism that releases small molecules in aqueous and biological environments during exposure to light. The nanomachines are positioned in molecular-sized pores inside of spherical particles and function in aqueous and biological environments."

Tamanoi adds, “The achievement here is gaining precise control of the amount of drugs that are released by controlling the light exposure. Controlled release to a specific location is the key issue. And the release is only activated by where the light is shining."

The researchers also stated, “We were extremely excited to discover that the machines were taken up by the cancer cells and that they responded to the light. We observed cell killing as a result of programmed cell death."

Both researchers point out that this is only an exciting first step in developing nanomachines to fight cancer and more steps are needed in the research to prove actual inhibition of tumor growth. Earlier this month researchers created nanowire detectors also aimed at use in the fight against cancer.

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...up to what stage?
By nugundam93 on 4/1/2008 4:20:38 PM , Rating: 2
i wonder up to what cancer stage those nanomachines can be used effectively? granted, it's still in its infancy but that's just exactly what i'd like to know.

RE: ...up to what stage?
By tmouse on 4/2/2008 8:09:11 AM , Rating: 2
No "stage" so far all of the work is done in vitro. It is interesting; but the current paper is a proof of concept otherwise it probably would be in a better journal. It still remains to be see if the particles are cleared or remain (which would be bad since when they degrade they would release their payloads in a non-target site). The light used is in the 413 nm range for those who may want to know. They tested a pancreatic carcinoma and colon cell line, exposed to 10 microgram per ml suspension of particles which is pretty high. It remains to be seen if IV push of a more diluted solution would allow enough particles to be present in a tumor to allow death upon light activation. The uptake coefficient in a moving system needs to be discovered and whether the tumor cells uptake is greater than the normal tissue. It has promise compared to the "fastest growing cells die, non-specific toxin" delivery systems we use today but still it is probably a few years away (if ever)from clinical trials.

RE: ...up to what stage?
By chrnochime on 4/2/2008 10:35:58 AM , Rating: 2
Just did a quick search on 413nm light(It's been years since I took optics classes in Univ, afterall), and it looks like such light cannot penetrate the human body. I'd assume such treatment needs some form of IV optic fiber for the nanoimpellers to have exposure to said light?

RE: ...up to what stage?
By tmouse on 4/3/2008 3:06:14 PM , Rating: 2
Probably; although other chemistries may allow some manipulation of the light range. I think the early work used 475nm. It’s workable for many types of tumors.

RE: ...up to what stage?
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/2/2008 12:34:33 PM , Rating: 2
you talked about the nanomachines degrading...Did not even think about that as a problem. Can they be made from a product that will last longer then a human? Or programmed to leave body after say 60 or 180 days or 2 years (not sure on lifespan of a nanomachine) if not used by this time frame?

RE: ...up to what stage?
By tmouse on 4/3/2008 3:09:56 PM , Rating: 2
I really do not know if this is a problem or not. Another potential rub may be payload release after conjugation reactions in the liver; only in vivo work will tell.

RE: ...up to what stage?
By TreatCancer on 4/5/2008 3:59:14 PM , Rating: 2
Treat Cancer with Flavonoids:

Jake 2.0
By HaZaRd2K6 on 4/1/2008 3:47:36 PM , Rating: 2
Nice picture, I miss that show. Whatever happened to it?

RE: Jake 2.0
By Master Kenobi on 4/1/2008 4:19:55 PM , Rating: 2
No idea but I liked it as well :(

RE: Jake 2.0
By walk2k on 4/1/2008 4:29:16 PM , Rating: 1
april fools!

The Other Side of the Coin
By mikefarinha on 4/1/2008 5:39:18 PM , Rating: 2
The flip-side to this is the very scary thought of having this type of technology being converted into a biological weapon.

By m1ldslide1 on 4/1/2008 5:57:13 PM , Rating: 2
I guess it's time to take up smoking.

Remember Fantastic Voyage?
By JohnnyCNote on 4/1/2008 6:36:27 PM , Rating: 2

Directed by Richard Fleischer, of "Soylent Green" fame . . .

Unintended consequences
By kyleb2112 on 4/1/2008 7:59:36 PM , Rating: 2
Greg Bear's "Blood Music" springs to mind...along with 5 or 6 Star Trek episodes that ripped it off.

By lobadobadingdong on 4/1/2008 9:57:49 PM , Rating: 2

Treat Cancer with Flavonoids
By TreatCancer on 4/5/2008 4:05:08 PM , Rating: 2
Treat Cancer with Flavonoids:

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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