Category Archives: Biology

Anthrax vaccine produces immunity with nanoparticles, not needles

A vaccine against anthrax that is more effective and easier to administer than the present vaccine has proved highly effective in tests in mice and guinea pigs, report University of Michigan Medical School scientists in the August issue of Infection and Immunity.

The scientists were able to trigger a strong immune response by treating the inside of the animals’ noses with a “nanoemulsion” – a suspension of water, soybean oil, alcohol and surfactant emulsified to create droplets of only 200 to 300 nanometers in size. It would take about 265 of the droplets lined up side by side to equal the width of a human hair.

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Nanotechnology – Age of Convergence

We are approaching an evolutionary event horizon, where the organic and the synthetic, the virtual and the “real”, are merging together into an operational ecology, an existence morphology for which there is no precendent in the history of which we are currently aware, catalyzed by nanotechnology 

Nano propellers pump with proper chemistry

The ability to pump liquids at the cellular scale opens up exciting possibilities, such as precisely targeting medicines and regulating flow into and out of cells. But designing this molecular machinery has proven difficult.

Now chemists at the University of Illinois at Chicago have created a theoretical blueprint for assembling a nanoscale propeller with molecule-sized blades.

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Self-assembled nanostructures function better than bone as porosity increases

Naturally occurring structures like birds’ bones or tree trunks are thought to have evolved over eons to reach the best possible balance between stiffness and density. But in a June paper in Nature Materials, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico (UNM), in conjunction with researchers at Case Western Reserve and Princeton Universities, show that nanoscale materials self-assembled in artificially determined patterns can improve upon nature’s designs. 

 On the left is a TEM micrograph of a porous cube-like nanostructure. On the right is a blow-up of the silica framework (the dark 2-nm thick regions on the left side figure) based on modeling. The highlighted structures represent the small rings refer ...

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DNA sieve : Nanoscale pores can be tiny analysis labs

Imagine being able to rapidly identify tiny biological molecules such as DNA and toxins using less than a drop of salt water in a system that can fit on a microchip. It’s closer than you might believe, say a team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


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Brightening prospects of using fluorescent nanotubes in medical applications

In a way, nanotubes are nature’s smallest candles. These tiny tubes are constructed from carbon atoms and they are so small that it takes about 100,000 laid side-by-side to span the width of a single human hair. In the last five years, scientists have discovered that some individual nanotubes are fluorescent. That is, they glow when they are bathed in light. Some glow brightly. Others glow dimly. Some glow in spots. Others glow all over.

Until now, this property has been largely academic. But researchers from the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE) have removed an obstacle that has restricted fluorescent nanotubes from a variety of medical applications, including anti-cancer treatments.

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Tomorrow’s green nanofactories

Viruses are notorious villains. They cause serious human diseases like AIDS, polio, and influenza, and can lead to system crashes and data loss in computers.

A new podcast explores how nanotechnology researcher Angela Belcher, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is working with viruses to make them do good things. By exploiting a virus’s ability to replicate rapidly and combine with semiconductor and electronic materials, she is coaxing them to grow and self-assemble nanomaterials into a functional electronic device. Through this marriage of nanotechnology with green chemistry, Belcher and her team are working toward building faster, better, cheaper and environmentally-friendly transistors, batteries, solar cells, diagnostic materials for detecting cancer, and semiconductors for use in modern electrical devices—everything from computers to cell phones.

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