Print 18 comment(s) - last by MasterBlaster7.. on May 27 at 1:48 AM

Lasers and bombs in the same cancer-killing package!

"Photothermal Effects of Supramolecularly Assembled Gold Nanoparticles for the Targeted Treatment of Cancer Cells" is quite the mouthful. The recently published paper details work by University of California at Los Angeles on another nanoparticle bomb approach to destroying cancer cells.

DailyTech is ripe with examples of similar studies and projects using gold and other forms of nano and microparticles in combination with various electromagnetic radiations and cancer-fighting drugs and even viral drug delivery systems. Mose of these nanoparticle treatments use relatively simple soldiers, carbon nanotubes and the like, which makes the UCLA methods a little more unique.

Doctor Hsien-Rong Tseng's team instead uses self-assembling macromolecular particles. These particles react extremely quickly when irradiated with a light source, heating to in excess of 370 degrees Celcius. At 374 degrees, the heat causes explosive bubbles to form and these bubbles in turn burst and destroy cells in the area. This is the same approach used in a recent Rice University study, but builds further upon the premise.

The magic self-assembly involves two-nanometer gold particles, cyclodextrin, adamantane, polyethyleneimine, and polyethylene glycol. The gold particles are first littered with adamantane. Cyclodextrin and more adamantane are then combined with the biocompatible polymers, polyethyleneimine and polyethylene glycol respectively. The two molecules self-assemble into complex structures with the doctored gold particles and a new, supramolecular bomb is born.

During the study, the structures attached themselves to tumor cells via specialized tumor-targeting molecules. The researchers then excited them with laser beams. They quickly obliterated any nearby cancer cells. They further tested the structures on cells lacking the receptor to which the targeting molecules adhere. These tests showed that cancer-less cells remained relatively unharmed. Tests with gold nanoparticles lacking the superstructure clearly showed that the engineered molecules were far superior at their seek and destroy missions.

An abstract of the previously mentioned paper can be found here. More information on the study should be forthcoming on the National Cancer Institute's website.

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RE: Hell of a weapon...
By MozeeToby on 5/26/2010 11:39:17 AM , Rating: 2
If you're interested in the possibilities, go read The Diamond Age. It is, of course, highly speculative but the basic premise is "What would the world be like if a universal nanoconstructor existed" (that is, a machine capable of quickly manufacturing any object by building it atom by atom) and goes from there. There's nothing in the book that is out and out impossible if you accept that basic premise but the implications for society of mind boggling.

RE: Hell of a weapon...
By Indianapolis on 5/26/2010 11:52:23 AM , Rating: 2
That's why I don't invest in gold. I keep thinking that any day now somebody is going to come out with a cheap way to manufacture gold on the molecular level.

Well, that, and the fact that I don't have any money, is why I don't buy gold.

RE: Hell of a weapon...
By ValorMorghulis on 5/26/2010 12:15:29 PM , Rating: 5
I think you misunderstand the point of what they are doing. Gold is an element. You can't manufacture gold on a molecular level its not a molecule. They are using gold in the manufacturing of a molecule which is the nano particle. If anything, this would make gold more valuable.

The amount of energy needed to change an atom from one kind to another is orders of magnitude greater than the energy needed to create or destroy a molecule. For example, Atomic Bomb = messing with the atomic structure. TNT = messing with molecular bonds.

Ultimately, we can turn other elements into gold, but the basic energy requirements are very high and involve sub-atomic not molecular concerns. Nano technology won't change that.

RE: Hell of a weapon...
By Indianapolis on 5/26/2010 12:33:55 PM , Rating: 3
Well, that's a load off my chest.

RE: Hell of a weapon...
By someotherdude on 5/26/2010 4:23:38 PM , Rating: 5
Better than a load on your chest.

RE: Hell of a weapon...
By Indianapolis on 5/26/2010 12:35:10 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, I was responding to the previous comment asking "What would the world be like if a universal nanoconstructor existed".

RE: Hell of a weapon...
By Etsp on 5/26/2010 1:26:24 PM , Rating: 2
To "construct" gold atom by atom, you would need to already have the gold atoms available.

Gold is not a molecule, it is a basic element, like Hydrogen or Nitrogen or Oxygen or Iron, or Lead. for more examples.

Now, if they had the ability to split or fuse atoms at will into specific sizes, this would be possible, and may be able to make the old alchemists dreams come true and make Gold from Lead (With a byproduct of lithium...)

RE: Hell of a weapon...
By ValorMorghulis on 5/26/2010 1:46:43 PM , Rating: 2
Fair enough. A nano constructor works with particles greater than 1 nanometer. We'd have to get far far smaller to be able to manipulate the subatomic particles which are about .8fm for protons, which determine the element. Its just a very different type of process. nano tech is cleverly combining small molecules. Subatomic stuff is very different.

RE: Hell of a weapon...
By Blood1 on 5/26/2010 2:41:24 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Hell of a weapon...
By MozeeToby on 5/26/2010 3:36:52 PM , Rating: 2
Stephenson is weirdly prophetic sometimes...

Taken from Diamond Age refering to one a famous character within the story. "One summer, as he was living in Ames [Iowa] and working as a research assistant in a solid-state physics lab, the city was actually turned into an island for a couple of days by an immense flood. Along with many other Midwesterners, Finkle-McGraw put in a few weeks building levees out of sandbags and plastic sheeting. Once again he was struck by the national media coverage - reporters from the coasts kept showing up and announcing, with some bewilderment, that there had been no looting."

I read that passage for the first time living in Iowa during the summer of 2008, when the Cedar River flooded to 12 feet above it's previous record, inundating a larger land area than hurricane Katrina did. And sure enough, the newscasters were amazed at how orderly, calm, and (relatively) efficient things were handled. It was only through the efforts of a small army of volunteers that hospitals and other essential services were kept operational, and there was a grand total of one death attributed to the disaster.

Stephenson's point was that some cultures handle extreme events better than others, and having lived through extreme events in the Midwest and watching how other areas handle similar events I can't say I disagree with him.

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