Thursday, March 22, 2007

Picture of the day

"Inside the Box"

John Burch, Inside the Box

This image is part of a presentation by the Foresight Nanotech Institute. Together, all the images are intended to illustrate "an animated view of a nanofactory and demonstrate key steps in a process that converts simple molecules into a billion-CPU laptop computer."

Description: Edge view of the active exturder surface. Fuel stock pipes at the bottom deliver Acetylene and other chemicals. The layers in the center are the active nanomachines that tear apart chemicals and reassemble them into the products seen at the top of the picture. Products slowly extrude upward out of the layer.

© Copyright John Burch (click to see larger version)

Learn more at Lizard Fire Studios

To see the entire series, visit the Nanotechnology Now Gallery.

Quote of the day

"Most of my work is oriented toward the longer term, but if I had to guess, the (nanomedicine) applications nearest to commercialization are probably the fullerene-related and dendrimer-related drugs," "The nanoshells are making their way toward commercialization, but the fullerenes and dendrimers are probably closest in terms of somebody making money from a product."

~Robert A. Freitas, Jr., Author of Nanomedicine (

Interview with NanoTumor Center

There is a large and rapidly growing group of researchers that are exploring and finding ways to screen, diagnose, monitor and treat disease, particularly cancers. Among the most noteworthy is the group at the UCSD Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, also known as the NanoTumor Center (Center for Nanotechnology for the Treatment, Understanding and Monitoring of Cancer).

The screening, diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of disease via nanotechnologies are likely to enable one of if not the most profound changes in our society.

In June of 2006 it was my pleasure to interview Sadik Esener, Principal Investigator and Center Director, and William Vine, Director of Strategic Programs at NanoBioNexus.

What follows is an excerpt of that interview.

RR: In general what types of research projects are planned over the five years of the program and what are their goals?

Esener: One focus of the UCSD effort will be to develop smart hierarchical delivery platforms about the size of a red blood cell. These "mother ships" would move through the body and target specific tumor cells or the blood vessels that feed them. After arriving at their destinations, the mother ships would release their payload nanoparticles, which could be designed to help image tumors, enter cells and perform measurements, and deliver therapies. Chemists at UCSD, together with materials scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara nanofabrication facility, will synthesize nanoparticles that will be coated with "biolinkers," molecules developed at the Burnham Institute to make the particles attach to specific types of tumor cells.

RR: Looking out 10 years, what are your hopes regarding medical diagnostics and treatments stemming from our understanding of the nanoscale?

Esener: Our hope in general is to be able to reduce suffering and death caused by cancer and to significantly improve the quality of life for cancer patients and their families. More specifically, we hope to develop platforms that can detect cancer at its earliest stage. We hope to be able to monitor and treat residual cancerous cells after treatment and be able to provide treatment with high specificity and efficiency eliminating side effects and the need to perform open surgery to remove tumors.

RR: On April 4, 2006, NanoBioNexus announced that they will head the educational component of the NanoTUMOR Center. Why is an Educational Core needed?

Vine: The National Cancer Institute requested that each of the eight Centers of Cancer and Nanotechnology Excellence (CCNE) create community outreach and internal educational programs in nanotechnology and cancer. Nanotechnology is so new that scientists and physicians as well as the general public have a thirst to learn more. Certainly, they are curious about how nanotechnology can help people with cancer. Finally, we want to replace the misinformation that creates anxiety with the facts so that the full benefits of nanotechnology are realized. Thus, the job of the Educational Core is to plan and execute the corresponding programs.

“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

To close, I’d like borrow a short and powerful quote from Naomi Halas: Imagine if cancer could become trivial. The way we’re headed now I believe it will, and within a decade or two at most.

Read the entire interview, here: