Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Picture of the day

"Coral of Atoms"

Dr. Antonio Siber

A small coral of atoms (blue, perhaps assembled using the tip of atomic force microscope) on an face-centered-cubic surface. (click to see full sized version)

Dr. Antonio Siber, Institute of Physics, Zagreb, Croatia.

See his Image and Video Gallery

As with previous pictures, I will post the others in this series over time. To see it all now, visit the Nanotechnology Now Gallery.

Quote of the day

"The question is not if nanotechnology is going to happen but when. Nanotechnology is fueling advances all across the modern industrial spectrum, and things are happening today. Advances that might be thought of as being ten years away today could, as a result of new developments, be only five years away tomorrow."

From The Next Big Thing Is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business.

~Jack Uldrich & Deb Newberry. March 2003

Nanotechnology for Cancer

As I have said in the past, I won’t normally report the news in this space. Today, however, the news reminded me to talk about nanomedicine, and the efforts of one particular group, the NanoTumor Center (Nanotechnology for the Treatment, Understanding and Monitoring of Cancer - NTC).

The NTC is composed of participants from the University of California at San Diego, Santa Barbara, Irvine and Riverside campuses together with the Burnham Institute and NanoBioNexus. “…our main objective at the center is to apply nanotechnology to the treatment, understanding, and monitoring of cancer towards reducing the suffering and death it results in. To realize this objective, we use targeted nanoparticles of various sizes and properties, optimized for detection, sensing, imaging, and therapy.”

“Our focus at the center will be on making nanoparticles stealth in the vascular system, specific as they attach only to the tumor, and capable of penetrating into it without polluting other organs.”

“Our longer-term vision is to ultimately deliver these nanoplatforms as a payload of multifunctional ‘smart motherships,’ capable of detection, identification, imaging and performing measurements, and providing treatment, as well as delivering therapies to residual cancer cells as they circulate in the system.”

Sadik Esener, Ph.D., Principal Investigator and Center Director

On to the news from the NTC

The NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer announced a collaborative, multidisciplinary team of researchers has created nanoparticles that … seek out and bind to the blood vessels surrounding tumors and then attract more nanoparticles to the tumor target. Using this system, the team demonstrated that the homing nanoparticle could be used to deliver a "payload" of an imaging compound, and in the process act as a clotting agent, obstructing as much as 20 percent of the tumor blood vessels.

These findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, come from a research team led by Erkki Ruoslahti, M.D., Ph.D., of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Michael Sailor, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego, and Sangeeta Bhatia, Ph.D., of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All three team leaders are investigators with Centers for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, funded by the National Cancer Institute Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer.

From Clot-Mimicking Nanoparticles Attack Tumors

The use of nanoparticles in this fashion is a significant step forward, and just one of many you’ll see from the NTC in the days ahead.

Just today I counted over a dozen new articles on nanotechnologies being applied to medicine. Of course, many of them cover technologies that are years down the road, if in fact they ever see commercial development. Equally “of course” is the fact that a great deal of funding is going into learning about the unique properties that come about when we get below 100 nm, and applying it to medical uses; the corollary to which is that some of these technologies are likely to become part of tomorrow’s world.

I’ll leave you today with this: Expect to see an increasing number of announcements coming from these “nanotechnology for cancer” projects, and pay attention to how rapidly we advance in detection, sensing, imaging, and therapy using nanoscale tools and particles. The field of medicine is about to make a quantum leap forward in how we diagnose, treat and prevent disease, all thanks to our understanding of the nanoscale.

To learn more, visit these web pages:

NanoTumor Center:
-Nanotechnology 101
-Participating Organizations
-The People
-The Projects
-The Cores

Centers for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence

National Cancer Institute Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer