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Piercing the Nano-world of Living CellsPatrick Bailey: An ongoing research project led by Dr. Tuan Vo-Dinh, at the Advanced Biomedical Science and Technology Group, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has produced a "nanoneedle" capable of probing individual living cells.
Before Vo-Dinh's probe is used to investigate a cell, his team attaches antibodies to the end of the tip. Once inside a cell, these antibodies bond with the specific chemicals inside the cell that researchers want to investigate. The combination of the antibodies and the laser light at the probe's tip create reactions with these internal chemicals, which causes them to glow.
Improvements in such nanoscale probing techniques are expected to revolutionize disease treatment and detection by allowing diseases to be confronted at the molecular level. In fact, it's so important that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has implemented funding for a $144.3 million, five-year initiative for nanotechnology in cancer research.
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