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May 11th, 2005
Vaults: From Biological Mystery to Nanotech Workhorse?
Naturally occurring nano-capsules, known as "vaults," could provide a whole new class of delivery vehicles for therapeutic drugs and DNA, according to recent research. Indeed, vaults could be used for a wide range of applications in nanotechnology--even though no one can figure out how nature itself uses them.
That's not for lack of trying. In the nearly two decades since vaults were discovered, researchers have found that these hollow, barrel-like structures circulate by the tens of thousands in just about every cell of the human body, as well as in the cells of monkeys, rats, frogs, electric rays and even slime molds. Vaults are presumably doing something worthwhile; otherwise, they never would have survived millions of years of evolution.
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