New Nanoparticle To Act at the Heart of Cells for Extremely Powerful and Targeted Anti-Inflammatory Treatment

This electron micrograph documents the porous nature of the silica nanoparticles. These pores are large enough to allow entrance of a large number of NSA molecules. Here, they are protected until being taken up by the immune cells. At this point NSA is released and can stop the inflammatory processes.

A team from UNIGE and LMU developed a transport nanoparticle to make an anti-inflammatory drug much more effective and less toxic.

How can a drug be delivered exactly where it is needed, while limiting the risk of side effects? The use of nanoparticles to encapsulate a drug to protect it and the body until it reaches its point of action is being increasingly studied. However, this requires identifying the right nanoparticle for each drug according to a series of precise parameters. A team from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the Ludwig Maximilians Universität München (LMU) has succeeded in developing a fully biodegradable nanoparticle capable of delivering a new anti-inflammatory drug directly into macrophages – the cells where uncontrolled inflammatory reactions are triggered – ensuring its effectiveness. In addition, the scientists used an in vitro screening methodology, thus limiting the need for animal testing. These results, recently published in the Journal of Controlled Release, open the way to an extremely powerful and targeted anti-inflammatory treatment.

Inflammation is an essential physiological response of the body to defend itself against pathogens such as bacteria. It can however become problematic when it turns into a chronic condition, such as in cancers, autoimmune diseases or certain viral infections. Many treatments already exist, but their action is often not very targeted, high doses are required and deleterious side effects are frequent. Macrophages, large immune cells whose natural function is to absorbs pathogens and trigger inflammation to destroy them, are often involved in inflammatory diseases. When overactivated, they trigger an excessive inflammatory response that turns against the body instead of protecting it.

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Piezoelectric nanoparticles provide deep brain stimulation without invasive surgery

By Tami Freeman

Deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which electrodes implanted in the brain deliver electrical impulses to specific targets, is an effective clinical treatment for several neurological conditions. DBS is currently used to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and dystonia, as well as conditions such as epilepsy and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The treatment, however, necessitates brain surgery to insert the stimulation electrodes, with the potential to cause numerous side effects.

To remove the need for invasive surgery, researchers from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in Korea are developing a non-invasive neural stimulation strategy based on piezoelectric nanoparticles. The nanoparticles serve two functions – transient opening of the blood–brain barrier (BBB) and stimulating the release of dopamine – both controlled by externally applied focused ultrasound.

Piezoelectric nanoparticles are of interest as neural stimulators because in response to external stimuli – such as ultrasound, for example – they deform and output direct current. The researchers propose that this current could then be used to stimulate dopaminergic neurons to release neurotransmitters.

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Nanotechnology platform can make solid tumor cells more receptive to immunotherapy

By Emily Henderson

A team of researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has developed a nanotechnology platform that can change the way the immune system sees solid tumor cells, making them more receptive to immunotherapy. The preclinical findings suggest this adaptable immune conversion approach has the potential for broad application across many cancer types.

The study, published today in Nature Nanotechnology, details the use of this platform to artificially attach an activation molecule to the surface of tumor cells, triggering an immune response in both in vivo and in vitro models. Wen Jiang, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Radiation Oncology, and Betty Kim, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Neurosurgery, co-led the study.

With this new platform, we now have a strategy to convert a solid tumor, at least immunologically, to resemble a hematological tumor, which often has a much higher response rate to immunotherapy treatments. If we are able to translate and validate this approach in the clinic, it may enable us to get closer to the maximum level of activity from immunotherapy drugs with cancers that have not traditionally responded well.”

Wen Jiang, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology

Immunotherapy has high response rates in blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, but success has been variable across solid tumors. Scientists have been working to further understand the mechanisms prohibiting a better response. One explanation is that varied expression of immune regulatory molecules on blood cancer versus solid tumor cells impact how they interact with immune cells.

The signaling lymphocytic activation molecule family member 7 (SLAMF7) receptor is critical in activating the body’s immune cells against cancer cells, acting as an “eat me” signal. However, it is found almost exclusively on the surface of blood cancer cells and not in solid tumor cells, making it an attractive target for the researchers’ immune conversion approach.

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3D Nanoprinted Electrodes Hold Potential for Personalized Treatment of Neurological Disorders

3D Nanoprinted Electrodes Holds Potential for Personalized Treatment of Neurological Disorders

By Margaret Davis

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University pioneered the CMU Array, a new type of microelectrode array (MEA) for brain-computer interface platforms that holds the potential for how doctors treat neurological disorders.

Phys.org reported that the MEA is 3D-printed at a fully customizable nanoscale, which means that patients suffering from epilepsy or limb function loss could someday have a personalized treatment plan. The researchers applied the newest microfabrication technique and Aerosol Jet 3D printing to produce the MEA and solve design barriers of other brain-computer interfaces (BCI) arrays.

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Pipes a Million Times Thinner Than Human Hair Could Deliver Personalized Therapies to Individual Cells

Pipes a million times thinner than a human hair could deliver personalized therapies to individual cells, according to new research.

The ‘world’s tiniest plumbing system’ could transform medicine by funneling drugs, proteins, or molecules to precisely targeted organs and tissue—without any risk of side-effects.

It comprises microscopic tubes that self-assemble and can connect themselves to different biostructures.

US scientists from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland engineered a way that ensured the pipes are safe from infinitesimally small leaks.

“This study suggests very strongly it’s feasible to build nanotubes that don’t leak using these easy techniques for self-assembly, where we mix molecules in a solution and just let them form the structure we want,” said co-author Professor Rebecca Schulman.

“In our case, we can also attach these tubes to different endpoints to form something like plumbing.”

It’s a significant step toward creating the first network of its kind to combat a host of life-threatening diseases.

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DNA-Based Nanorobot Interacts with Live Cells

 By CONN HASTINGS

Researchers at INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale) in France, and collaborators, have developed a DNA-based nanorobot called the Nano-winch. The tiny creation is made using DNA molecules and a “DNA Origami” approach. The tiny robot is so small that it can land on a cell surface and interact with ‘mechanoreceptors’ that the cell uses to sense mechanical forces acting on it. 

The robots can apply tiny forces to the mechanoreceptors, allowing the researchers to measure the biochemical and molecular changes that result. While the technology is certainly useful for basic cellular research, it may also pave the way for similar nanorobots with medical applications, given its ability to interact with specific cellular receptors.       

It seems that every week someone develops a new nano- or microrobot that can perform tasks hitherto considered within the realm of science fiction. These breakthroughs could well herald a new era in medicine, with swarms of tiny machines performing an array of complex medical procedures within the body. This latest technology follows this trend, with the ability to land on the cell surface and delicately apply a tiny force to specific cellular receptors.  

The researchers describe their creation as a “programmable DNA origami-based molecular actuator” and have called it the Nano-winch. It consists of three DNA origami structures and can land on the cell surface and apply a force of 1 piconewton to a cellular receptor. To put this in perspective, this is 1 trillionth of a Newton, and 1 Newton is approximately the force exerted by your finger when you click the top of a pen.

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Researchers Build Nanoscale Flow-Driven Rotary Motor That Can Generate Mechanical Work

Researchers were puzzled to see the DNA rods organise themselves

THE ROTORS DRAW ENERGY FROM WATER THAT IS INDUCED BY APPLYING VOLTAGE OR BY HAVING DIFFERENT CONCENTRATIONS OF SALT ON EITHER SIDE OF THE MEMBRANE.

  • The team has used a technique called DNA origami for the motor
  • The study was recently published in Nature Physics
  • Development has opened new avenues in the engineering of active robots

Rotary motors that are driven by some flow are in use for a long time in windmills and waterwheels. A similar mechanism is also seen in biological cells where the FoF1-ATP synthase produces the fuel required by cells to function. Drawing inspiration from this, researchers at the Delft University of Technology have developed the smallest ever flow-driven motor from DNA that utilises electrical or salt gradients to generate mechanical energy. For the construction of the motor, the team has used a technique called DNA origami which uses specific interactions between complementary DNA pairs to build 2D and 3D nano-objects.

The rotors draw energy from water that is induced by applying voltage or by having different concentrations of salt on either side of the membrane. From the observations made, researchers have explored more and used the knowledge to build nanoscale turbines.

“Our flow-driven motor is made from DNA material. This structure is docked onto a nanopore, a tiny opening, in a thin membrane. The DNA bundle of only 7-nanometer thickness self-organises under an electric field into a rotor-like configuration, that subsequently is set into a sustained rotary motion of more than 10 revolutions per second,” explained Dr Xin Shi, a postdoc in the department of Bionanoscience at TU Delft. Dr Shi is also the first author of the study published in Nature Physics.

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South Korean researchers develop nanotech tattoos as health monitoring devices

Researchers in South Korea are developing a new health monitoring device in the form of an e-tattoo that can automatically alert the wearer to potential health problems.

The team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have created an electronic tattoo ink made of liquid metal and carbon nanotubes that effectively functions as a bioelectrode.

The device could be used to send a readout of the wearer’s vital signs if connected to biosensors, including for instance an electrocardiogram.

Alongside heart rates it could be used to read glucose or lactate levels for people with diabetes or sepsis.

But the researchers plan to do away with the biosensors and design the e-tattoo as a fully self-contained device.

“In the future, what we hope to do is connect a wireless chip integrated with this ink, so that we can communicate, or we can send signal back and forth between our body to an external device,” said the project leader Professor Steve Park.

The e-tattoo ink is non-invasive and doesn’t require a needle to be implanted beneath the skin like a traditional tattoo.

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Nanotechnology Advances Regenerative Medicine: Bone Formation Comes Down to the Nanowire

A cell cultured on top of the nanowire scaffold.

New nanotechnology that accelerates the transition of stem cells into bone could transform regenerative medicine.

A nanotechnology platform developed by King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) scientists could lead to new treatments for degenerative bone diseases.

The technique relies on iron nanowires that bend in response to magnetic fields. Bone-forming stem cells grown on a mesh of these tiny wires get a kind of physical workout on the moving substrate. They subsequently grow into adult bone considerably quicker than in conventional culturing settings, with a differentiation protocol that lasts only a few days rather than a few weeks.

“This is a remarkable finding,” says Jasmeen Merzaban, associate Professor of bioscience. “We can achieve efficient bone cell formation in a shorter amount of time,” potentially paving the way for more efficient regeneration of bone. Merzaban co-led the study together with sensor scientist Jürgen Kosel and colleagues from their labs.

The scientists analyzed the bone-producing capability of their nanowire scaffold, both with and without magnetic signals. They patterned the tiny wires in an evenly spaced grid and then layered bone marrow-derived human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) on top. Each of the tiny wires is about the size of the tail-like appendage found on some bacteria.

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Tiny nanobots in teeth can kill bacteria, help better dental treatment

DEVELOPED by the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, the nanonbots can be injected into the teeth and controlled using a device.

The team has tested the dental nanobots in mice models and found them to be safe and effective.

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru have developed tiny nanobots that can be injected into the teeth to kill bacteria and better Root Canal Treatment (RCT). The latest ingenuity can better dental treatment by killing germs deep inside dentinal tubules.

RCT is a common technique to treat tooth infections, which involves removing the infected soft tissue inside the tooth, called the pulp, and flushing the tooth with antibiotics or chemicals to kill the bacteria that cause the infection.

In a new study, researchers at IISc have detailed the development of helical nanobots made of silicon dioxide coated with iron, which can be controlled using a device that generates a low-intensity magnetic field. The study has been published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.

“The dentinal tubules are very small, and bacteria reside deep in the tissue. Current techniques are not efficient enough to go all the way inside and kill the bacteria,” Shanmukh Srinivas, Research Associate at the Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE), IISc said.

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Caltech’s newest Smart Pill will one day track the nanobots in your body

Open Wide and Swallow

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

In the next two decades or so we will be increasingly exposed to nanobots that can perform extraordinary feats as they move around inside our bodies, but up until now there’s not been any way to track them.

The other day I made a Scouts honour pledge to the biologists and doctors among you that I’d write a piece on nanobot GPS tracking , yes, really, so here it is… In the future, if futurists like me are to be believed, hey no smirking at the back, we’re all going be quaffing both brain controlled nanobots and “regular” nanobots, that can perform surgery on us from the inside and identify diseases, like Cancer, before we show any symptoms, with our wine. Or beer. Whatever takes your fancy. However, while having all these little robotic critters roaming around our insides sounds great and all that there’s a problem with this wonderful utopian vision… how on Earth would we keep track of them all?

Well, now thanks to those spiffy guys and gals at Caltech a new chip that’s loaded with sensors and that can ping its location in the body could help us solve that issue, and one day it could be used to help us track our little friends as they meander around our insides in real time.

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This Micro-Sized Camera will Turn Nanorobots into Photographers

Nanorobotics, like graphene, have been trending topics in research for years but are still far from full industrial production. Everyone is aware of its potential, but the technical hurdles remain. Fortunately, research is progressing steadily. The latest invention that would allow the world’s tiniest robots to take a giant leap forward is a camera barely the size of a grain of salt.

Imagine for a moment that, instead of using a bulky CAT scan or intrusive endoscopy, an almost invisible robot could inspect your arteries or the most inaccessible corners of your heart. Those could be some of the of applications enabled by a new camera designed by scientists at Princeton University in the U.S. It is the size of a grain of salt and works in a radically different way from traditional lenses.

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