Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

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

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Further improvement of qubit lifetime for quantum computers: New technique removes quasiparticles from superconducting quantum circuits December 9th, 2016

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Chemical trickery corrals 'hyperactive' metal-oxide cluster December 8th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Academic/Education

Oxford Nanoimaging report on how the Nanoimager, a desktop microscope delivering single molecule, super-resolution performance, is being applied at the MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology & Infection November 22nd, 2016

The University of Applied Sciences in Upper Austria uses Deben tensile stages as an integral part of their computed tomography research and testing facility October 18th, 2016

Enterprise In Space Partners with Sketchfab and 3D Hubs for NewSpace Education October 13th, 2016

New Agricultural Research Center Debuts at UCF October 12th, 2016

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

Infrared instrumentation leader secures exclusive use of Vantablack coating December 5th, 2016

Novel Electrode Structure Provides New Promise for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries December 3rd, 2016

Cutting-edge nanotechnologies are breaking into industries November 18th, 2016

Hybrid nanostructures hold hydrogen well: Rice University scientists say boron nitride-graphene hybrid may be right for next-gen green cars October 25th, 2016

Nanomedicine

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2016 Year End Results December 7th, 2016

Fast, efficient sperm tails inspire nanobiotechnology December 5th, 2016

Journal Nanotechnology Progress International (JONPI) Volume 6, issue 2 coming out soon! December 5th, 2016

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses: Medicine diffusion capsule could locally treat multiple ailments and diseases over several weeks December 3rd, 2016

Announcements

Keeping electric car design on the right road: A closer look at the life-cycle impacts of lithium-ion batteries and proton exchange membrane fuel cells December 9th, 2016

Further improvement of qubit lifetime for quantum computers: New technique removes quasiparticles from superconducting quantum circuits December 9th, 2016

Researchers peer into atom-sized tunnels in hunt for better battery: May improve lithium ion for larger devices, like cars December 8th, 2016

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Nanobiotechnology

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2016 Year End Results December 7th, 2016

Fast, efficient sperm tails inspire nanobiotechnology December 5th, 2016

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Nanobiotix Provides Update on Global Development of Lead Product NBTXR3: Seven clinical trials across the world: More than 2/3 of STS patients recruited in the “act.in.sarc” Phase II/III trial: Phase I/II prostate cancer trial now recruiting in the U.S. November 28th, 2016

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