Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > A new use for gold

An image of gold nanoparticles. Image courtesy Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli
An image of gold nanoparticles. Image courtesy Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli

Abstract:
Engineers turn a drawback — the stickiness of gold nanoparticles — into an advantage.

By Diana LaScala-Gruenewald, MIT News correspondent

A new use for gold

Cambridge, MA | Posted on June 11th, 2010

Gold nanoparticles — tiny spheres of gold just a few billionths of a meter in diameter — have become useful tools in modern medicine. They've been incorporated into miniature drug-delivery systems to control blood clotting, and they're also the main components of a device, now in clinical trials, that is designed to burn away malignant tumors.

However, one property of these particles stands in the way of many nanotechnological developments: They‘re sticky. Gold nanoparticles can be engineered to attract specific biomolecules, but they also stick to many other unintended particles — often making them inefficient at their designated task.

MIT researchers have found a way to turn this drawback into an advantage. In a paper recently published in American Chemical Society Nano, Associate Professor Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli of the Departments of Biological Engineering and Mechanical Engineering and postdoc Sunho Park PhD '09 of the Department of Mechanical Engineering reported that they could exploit nanoparticles' stickiness to double the amount of protein produced during in vitro translation — an important tool that biologists use to safely produce a large quantity of protein for study outside of a living cell.

During translation, groups of biomolecules come together to produce proteins from molecular templates called mRNA. In vitro translation harnesses these same biological components in a test tube (as opposed to in vivo translation, which occurs in live cells), and a man-made mRNA can be added to guarantee the production of a desired protein. For example, if a researcher wanted to study a protein that a cell would not naturally produce, or a mutated protein that would be harmful to the cell in vivo, he might use in vitro translation to create large quantities of that protein for observation and testing. But there's a downside to in vitro translation: It is not as efficient as it could be. "You might get some protein one day, and none for the next two," explains Hamad-Schifferli.

With funding from the Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, Hamad-Schifferli and her co-workers initially set out to design a system that would prevent translation. This process, known as translation inhibition, can stop the production of harmful proteins or help a researcher determine protein function by observing cell behavior when the protein has been removed. To accomplish this, Hamad-Schifferli attached DNA to gold nanoparticles, expecting that the large nanoparticle-DNA (NP-DNA) aggregates would block translation.

She was discouraged, however, to find that the NP-DNA did not decrease protein production as expected. In fact, she had some unsettling data suggesting that instead of inhibiting translation, the NP-DNA were boosting it. "That's when we put on our engineering caps," recalls Hamad-Schifferli.

It turns out that the sticky nanoparticles bring the biomolecules needed for translation into close proximity, which helps speed the translation process. Additionally, the DNA part of the NP-DNA complex is designed to bind to a specific mRNA molecule, which will be translated into a specific protein. The binding must be tight enough to hold the mRNA in place for translation, but loose enough that the mRNA can also attach to the other molecules necessary for the process. Because the designed DNA molecule has a specific mRNA partner, that mRNA in a solution of many similar molecules can be enhanced without having to be isolated.

In addition to enhancing in vitro translation, Hamad-Schifferli's NP-DNA complexes may have other applications. According to Ming Zheng, a research chemist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, they could be combined with carbon nanotubes — tiny, hollow cylinders that are incredibly strong for their size. They may ultimately be the cornerstone of transport systems that ferry drugs into cells or between cells. The stickiness of the NP-DNA might enhance the speed and accuracy of such a drug-delivery system.

Although Hamad-Schifferli is confident that her discovery will make in vitro translation more reliable and efficient, she is not done. She hopes to tinker with her system to further enhance protein production in vitro, and see if the system can be applied to enhance translation in live cells. To help reach these goals, she must design and conduct experiments to determine which molecules are involved in the enhancement process, and how they interact. "The upside is that we've been lucky," Hamad-Schifferli says, reflecting on her discovery. "The downside is that it will be difficult to tease out exactly how the system works."

####

For more information, please click here

Copyright © MIT

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 News Press

News and information

Nano Ruffles in Brain Matter: Freiburg researchers decipher the role of nanostructures around brain cells in central nervous system function October 31st, 2014

Gold nanoparticle chains confine light to the nanoscale October 31st, 2014

'Nanomotor lithography' answers call for affordable, simpler device manufacturing October 31st, 2014

Device invented at Johns Hopkins provides up-close look at cancer on the move: Microscopic view of metastasis could give insight about how to keep cancer in check October 31st, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Gold nanoparticle chains confine light to the nanoscale October 31st, 2014

'Nanomotor lithography' answers call for affordable, simpler device manufacturing October 31st, 2014

Device invented at Johns Hopkins provides up-close look at cancer on the move: Microscopic view of metastasis could give insight about how to keep cancer in check October 31st, 2014

'Electronic skin' could improve early breast cancer detection October 29th, 2014

Academic/Education

SUNY Polytechnic Institute Invites the Public to Attend its Popular Statewide 'NANOvember' Series of Outreach and Educational Events October 23rd, 2014

First Canada Excellence Research Chair gets $10 million from the federal government for oilsands research at the University of Calgary: Federal government announces prestigious research chair to study improving oil production efficiency October 19th, 2014

Raytheon, UMass Lowell open on-campus research institute: Industry leader’s researchers to collaborate with faculty, students to move key technologies forward through first-of-its-kind partnership October 11th, 2014

SUNY Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Announce Expanded Partnership October 2nd, 2014

Nanotubes/Buckyballs

Tiny carbon nanotube pores make big impact October 29th, 2014

Materials for the next generation of electronics and photovoltaics: MacArthur Fellow develops new uses for carbon nanotubes October 21st, 2014

Special UO microscope captures defects in nanotubes: University of Oregon chemists provide a detailed view of traps that disrupt energy flow, possibly pointing toward improved charge-carrying devices October 21st, 2014

Imaging electric charge propagating along microbial nanowires October 20th, 2014

Nanomedicine

Nano Ruffles in Brain Matter: Freiburg researchers decipher the role of nanostructures around brain cells in central nervous system function October 31st, 2014

Production of Biocompatible Polymers in Iran October 30th, 2014

Amorphous Coordination Polymer Particles as alternative to classical nanoplatforms for nanomedicine October 30th, 2014

'Electronic skin' could improve early breast cancer detection October 29th, 2014

Announcements

Nano Ruffles in Brain Matter: Freiburg researchers decipher the role of nanostructures around brain cells in central nervous system function October 31st, 2014

Gold nanoparticle chains confine light to the nanoscale October 31st, 2014

'Nanomotor lithography' answers call for affordable, simpler device manufacturing October 31st, 2014

Device invented at Johns Hopkins provides up-close look at cancer on the move: Microscopic view of metastasis could give insight about how to keep cancer in check October 31st, 2014

Nanobiotechnology

Tiny carbon nanotube pores make big impact October 29th, 2014

Molecular beacons shine light on how cells 'crawl' October 27th, 2014

Breakthrough in molecular electronics paves the way for DNA-based computer circuits in the future: DNA-based programmable circuits could be more sophisticated, cheaper and simpler to make October 27th, 2014

NYU Researchers Break Nano Barrier to Engineer the First Protein Microfiber October 23rd, 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