Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > A Better Mesh: Researchers ‘Tighten’ Body's Protective Coating

Will Kirk/JHU
Two of the key contributors to the Johns Hopkins mucus mesh study were Ying-Ying Wang, a biomedical engineering doctoral student, and Samuel Lai, an assistant research professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
Will Kirk/JHU
Two of the key contributors to the Johns Hopkins mucus mesh study were Ying-Ying Wang, a biomedical engineering doctoral student, and Samuel Lai, an assistant research professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Abstract:
Fibers in the mucus coatings of the eyes, lungs, stomach or reproductive system naturally bundle together and allow the tiniest disease-causing bugs, allergens or pollutants to slip by. But researchers have discovered a way to chemically shrink the holes in the "netting" so that it will keep out more unwanted particles.

A Better Mesh: Researchers ‘Tighten’ Body's Protective Coating

Baltimore, MD | Posted on February 5th, 2009

A net with large holes won't catch small fish. Likewise, the microscopic fibers in the protective mucus coatings of the eyes, lungs, stomach or reproductive system naturally bundle together and allow the tiniest disease-causing bugs, allergens or pollutants to slip by. But Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a way to chemically shrink the holes in the mucus layer's netting so that it will keep out more of the unwanted particles.

"The mucus layer is an outstanding barrier to most things, but not a perfect one for objects smaller than several hundred nanometers (about 1,000 times smaller than the width a human hair). We still get sick far too often," says Samuel Lai, a chemical and biomolecular researcher in the Whiting School of Engineering and a member of the university's Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT).

"The question we asked was, ‘Can we shrink the size of the holes in the human mucus barrier to help prevent its penetration by potentially harmful nano-size objects?' " says Justin Hanes, principal investigator of the study and a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. Hanes also is director of therapeutics for the INBT.

The team showed that tiny strands in the mucus layer -- the mucin fibers -- naturally tend to bundle and bunch together, creating gaps large enough for pathogens and potentially dangerous pollutants to get in. But by adding a simple detergent to the mix, Lai and his colleagues partially disrupted the bundling of mucin fibers, a procedure that decreased the size of the holes in the mesh. Particles in the range of 200 nanometers in diameter that previously slipped through easily now became trapped in the more finely strung netting.

The findings were reported in the Jan. 28 online edition of the journal Public Library of Science One. For this research, the team studied protective coatings taken from the female reproductive tract, conducting high-resolution microscopy experiments with particles as large as 1 micron and as small as 100 nanometers in size.

To shrink the holes in the network's mesh, the researchers used a detergent commonly found in many personal care products. Mucus treated with the detergent slowed nanoparticle movement dramatically, especially in the 200-500 nanometer range, which was clearly demonstrated in videos enhanced by fluorescent imaging.

"We suspected the fibers are bundled together, making large holes in the mucus mesh, but this was the first time it was shown definitively," says Ying-Ying Wang, a doctoral student and National Science Foundation graduate fellowship recipient in biomedical engineering. "And we didn't know going into this study exactly how much we could shrink the holes, if at all. It was exciting to see particles the size of many potentially dangerous substances become completely trapped in mucus, since mucus trapping typically leads to harmless removal from our bodies," Wang adds.

The team, which also includes Richard Cone, a biophysics professor and INBT-affiliated faculty member from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and Denis Wirtz, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and INBT's associate director, envisions many potential applications for this concept.

"If there is an outbreak of influenza, for example, we imagine that doctors and nurses could inhale these agents in an aerosolized form and be protected against the virus for several hours," Lai says. "People who work where there are high levels of nanoparticles in the air, such as mine workers or builders, could use a product with these fiber debundling detergents to prevent dangerous exposure."

Since the mucus layer constantly clears from the body, any enhancement to its protective ability would be short-lived, adds Lai. For example, coatings clear from the lungs in as little as 30 minutes, while the mucus lining in the stomach and intestine takes several hours to renew.

This study is only a start, Lai explains, and the technique has not yet been tested in humans. "The next step will be to try different substances, perhaps those paired to specific pathogens, and observe how these substances improve the performance of the mucus barrier," he says. In addition, microbe-killing agents could be combined with detergents to not only slow but destroy the trapped potential pathogens, he says. Animal studies are being planned.

This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and a graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation.

The study -- by Samuel K. Lai, Ying-Ying Wang, Richard Cone, Denis Wirtz and Justin Hanes and entit;ed "Altering Mucus Rheology to ‘Solidify' Human Mucus at the Nanoscale" -- can be viewed online at:
www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0004294 .

Photos of the researchers and videos of particles available; Contact Phil Sneiderman.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
901 S Bond St., Ste. 540
Baltimore, MD 21231
United States
Phone 443-287-9960
Fax 443-287-9920

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Spiro
(410) 516-4802

Copyright © Newswise

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Justin Hanes’ Lab Page

Richard Cone’s Lab Page

Denis Wirtz’s Lab Page

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology

Related News Press

News and information

Scientists Capture Ultrafast Snapshots of Light-Driven Superconductivity: X-rays reveal how rapidly vanishing 'charge stripes' may be behind laser-induced high-temperature superconductivity April 16th, 2014

'Life Redesigned: The Emergence of Synthetic Biology' Lecture at Brookhaven Lab on Wednesday, April 30: Biomedical Engineer James Collins to Speak for BSA Distinguished Lecture Series April 16th, 2014

ECHA Planning Workshop on Regulatory Challenges in the Risk Assessment of Nanomaterials April 16th, 2014

Lumerical files a provisional patent that extends the standard eigenmode expansion propagation technique to better address waveguide component design. Lumerical’s EME propagation tool will address a wide set of waveguide applications in silicon photonics and integrated optics April 16th, 2014

Discoveries

Scientists Capture Ultrafast Snapshots of Light-Driven Superconductivity: X-rays reveal how rapidly vanishing 'charge stripes' may be behind laser-induced high-temperature superconductivity April 16th, 2014

Scientists observe quantum superconductor-metal transition and superconducting glass: A team including MIPT physicist observed quantum superconductor-metal transition and superconducting glass April 16th, 2014

UT Arlington physicist creates new nanoparticle for cancer therapy April 16th, 2014

Targeting cancer with a triple threat: MIT chemists design nanoparticles that can deliver three cancer drugs at a time April 15th, 2014

Announcements

UT Arlington physicist creates new nanoparticle for cancer therapy April 16th, 2014

Relieving electric vehicle range anxiety with improved batteries: Lithium-sulfur batteries last longer with nanomaterial-packed cathode April 16th, 2014

Aerotech X-Y ball-screw stage for economical high performance Planar positioning April 16th, 2014

Energy Research Facility Construction Project at Brookhaven Lab Wins U.S. Energy Secretary's Achievement Award April 16th, 2014

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

ECHA Planning Workshop on Regulatory Challenges in the Risk Assessment of Nanomaterials April 16th, 2014

Effects of Carbon Nanotubes Studied on Pregnant Mothers April 12th, 2014

Local girl does good March 22nd, 2014

Scientists Study Possibility of Migration of Nanoparticles from Foodstuff Packaging to Products March 16th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE







  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE