Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Nanotech: injections or sampling? New 'molecular syringes' under testing: Advice on the use of carbon nanotubes from a new research study

Abstract:
Which is better, a quick vertical jab on the buttock or the delicately soft entry of a blood sample? Waiting to find out "for what", some are already wondering "how" to use those tiny "molecular syringes" which are carbon nanotubes. With a diameter of less than one millionth of a millimetre (nanometre) and a maximum length of just a few millimetres, the first use that springs to mind when we think of this ethereal tubes - the smallest ever made by man - is as potential needles for injecting drugs or genes into sick cells. And if a syringe it is, we had better start thinking about how to use them. A group of researchers at the Ciamician department of the University of Bologna (Unibo, Italy) has no doubt about it. The easiest and most natural way of penetrating a cell membrane with a carbon nanotube, in its simplest form, is at an angle which is almost flat against the membrane surface. Just as a nurse does to "find" a vein.

Nanotech: injections or sampling? New 'molecular syringes' under testing: Advice on the use of carbon nanotubes from a new research study

Unibo, Italy | Posted on July 18th, 2011

Siegfried Höfinger (Unibo) explains: "A flat entry offers the most favourable energy balance." The entry of the nano-needle is in fact twice as easy than at an angle of, say, 45°, and three times easier than vertical penetration. "We can even hypothesise that the nanotube takes on this position of its own free will when placed near the membrane," adds Tommaso Gallo, another of the young authors working on the study, which is in press in the scientific journal Biomaterials.

The scientists' doubts lie in the extreme difficulty in handling such small objects. "Probably no one is able to experimentally verify these phenomena yet," says Höfinger. The chemists from Bologna, part of Francesco Zerbetto's research group, have drawn their conclusions not from physical experiments but from theoretical simulations. Mathematical models which consider all the forces at stake and the physical and chemical properties of the elements involved, predicting their behaviour.

The encouraging aspect of the Unibo research, which also saw the participation of the Michigan Technological University and the Universidade do Porto, is that two independent simulations based on completely different theoretical approaches led to an identical response. Flat entry into the membrane is certainly preferable. The first simulation was based on the system's energy balance and the concept of "environmental free energy". The second simulation, on the other hand, is typically used to describe the behaviour of large molecules in solutions (solvents and polymers). It may be less accurate than the first, but it has the advantage of illustrating the dynamic and temporal evolution of the described phenomenon well.

To simplify the problem, the researchers considered the use of very short tubes, maximum 7 nanometres long, which could be fully included in the cell wall, which is around 5 nanometres thick. It was also seen that, once inside the membrane, the longer tubes tend to lie longitudinally, parallel to the surface. Carrying out the test with bundles of smaller tubes bound together, it was also demonstrated that compact bundles of tubes bound tightly to each other cause less cell damage.

The future that Höfinger sees for the nanotubes is not however that of molecular syringes, but of probes. Their physical properties, including their great electrical and thermal conductivity, make them particularly suited for exchanging information between the inside and outside of the cell. They may therefore also be used to test for certain substances and test certain processes beyond cell membranes. Probes or syringes, the scientist in any case feel comfortable in their role as molecular nurses, and are eager to keep on testing using all the new tools of the trade.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Luigi Valeri

39-335-310-655

Copyright © Università di Bologna

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

Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods March 25th, 2017

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen March 24th, 2017

Promising results obtained with a new electrocatalyst that reduces the need for platinum: Researchers from Aalto University have succeeded in manufacturing electrocatalysts used for storing electric energy with one-hundredth of the amount of platinum that is usually needed March 24th, 2017

Artificial photosynthesis steps into the light: Rice University lab turns transition metals into practical catalyst for solar, other applications March 23rd, 2017

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

Intertronics introduce new nanoparticle deagglomeration technology March 15th, 2017

Boron atoms stretch out, gain new powers: Rice University simulations demonstrate 1-D material's stiffness, electrical versatility January 26th, 2017

New stem cell technique shows promise for bone repair January 25th, 2017

Captured on video: DNA nanotubes build a bridge between 2 molecular posts: Research may lead to new lines of direct communication with cells January 9th, 2017

Nanomedicine

Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods March 25th, 2017

Nanobiotix: The Independent Data Monitoring Committee Recommends the Continuation of the Ongoing Phase II/III Trial of NBTXR3 in Soft Tissue Sarcoma March 23rd, 2017

Nanoparticle paves the way for new triple negative breast cancer drug March 20th, 2017

Block copolymer micellization as a protection strategy for DNA origami March 17th, 2017

Announcements

Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods March 25th, 2017

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen March 24th, 2017

Promising results obtained with a new electrocatalyst that reduces the need for platinum: Researchers from Aalto University have succeeded in manufacturing electrocatalysts used for storing electric energy with one-hundredth of the amount of platinum that is usually needed March 24th, 2017

Artificial photosynthesis steps into the light: Rice University lab turns transition metals into practical catalyst for solar, other applications March 23rd, 2017

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