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Another iteration of the carbon nanotube versus the biological insurgent from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Ravi S. Kane, professor of chemical and biological engineering, and his team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have devised a way to target harmful agents in the body and neutralize them without physical or chemical intervention. Kane’s method is similar to similar to other remote control cancer killers and uses the widely popular carbon nanotube (CNT) as the bomb.

Using various tuned peptides attached to the CNT as homing devices, the microscopic particles can seek out a programmed protein, such as anthrax toxin or cancer cells. Since the peptide coating on the CNT can be changed, groups of different neutralizers can be used in the same application without adversely affecting any other proteins.

Rather than using a microwave pulse, the Rensselaer method uses near-infrared light to act as a catalyst, activating the neutralizing agent. Different coatings can be made to respond to different frequencies of light, thus the same batch of CNTs could be used on several different toxins, drugs, or cells simultaneously. One type can be targeted specifically by using a single wavelength of light to which that neutralizer responds.

When the invisible, harmless light is shined on the CNTs that have found a target protein, they release free radicals called reactive oxygen species. These free radicals deactivate the target protein, rendering it harmless.

Kane's technique uses virtually no invasive methods and has other applications apart from a blood-borne detoxicant. His team has already developed a film that uses the nanotubes. "The ability of these coatings to generate reactive oxygen species upon exposure to light might allow these coatings to kill any bacteria that have attached to them. You could use these transparent coatings on countertops, doorknobs, in hospitals or airplanes -- essentially any surface, inside or outside, that might be exposed to harmful contaminants," Kane explained.

The method could also be used as a way to destroy toxins and pathogens in laboratories, saving money and man hours on hazardous biological disposal processes.





"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA
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