Nanoparticles Can Damage DNA Without Crossing Cellular Barrier

Metal nanoparticles use a newly observed cell signal process to wreak havoc indirectly

Scientists know that nanoparticles can damage DNA in cells through direct interaction. Now, though, it appears that nanoparticles can also mess with DNA on the far side of a cellular barrier, by creating signaling molecules -- a never-before-seen phenomenon.

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Magnetic Nanoparticles Provide Targeted Drug Release

For patients with conditions like cancer, diabetes and chronic pain, taking drugs orally is often insufficient; a more precise and flexible on/off dosing schedule controlled by an implanted device can provide better treatment based on day-to-day--or minute-by-minute--conditions.

While various methods for regulating drug-dispensing implants exist (including implanted heat sources and electronic chips), a new device with a membrane of magnetic nanoparticles can be controlled simply by applying a magnetic field.

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New "Disappearing" Nanoparticle Ink Keeps Messages Cryptic

Remember when, as a kid, you would pen secret messages with "disappearing ink" by writing on paper with lemon juice? A team of researchers at Northwestern have taken the idea just a little bit further, engineering a nanoparticle ink that fades away at a predetermined time, keeping maps or messages away from spying eyes.

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China Reports the First Human Nano-Fatalities

Two women in China have achieved the dubious honor of being the first humans to be killed by nanotechnology. The women, who worked in a poorly ventilated factory spraying a paint that contained nanoparticles, reportedly inhaled the particles over a period of months. The tiny compounds infiltrated the workers' lungs and skin, causing lung damage, fluid buildup, and eventual respiratory failure.

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Scientists Paint Brain Tumors With Nanoparticles for More Precise Removal

Brain cancer is a classic double whammy: the extremely invasive form of cancer is both deadly and difficult to treat. Fortunately, there's a promising solution on the table: tumor painting.

Because brain cancer tends to invade surrounding healthy brain tissue, it blurs the line between tumor and non-tumor tissue, and makes it difficult for surgeons to circumvent the healthy parts of the brain when they saw away at the tumor. On top of that, current imaging techniques produce fairly imprecise representations of the tissue, which only compounds the problem.

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This Message Will Self Destruct: Scientists Develop Programmable, Self-Erasing Documents

Researchers are harnessing nanoparticle properties to develop fading ink

Remember when, as a kid, you would pass “top-secret” notes written in lemon juice that your friends could only read in the right light? Well, in light of new nanotechnology research, this now sounds absurdly antiquated, like cave painting in the modern era. Instead, the youth of the future (and adults, too) could have to option to communicate via documents that self-erase at a programmed time.

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Nanoparticles Will Make Your Teeth Too Slick For Bacteria

Dentists around the world should be very, very worried!

Story from Gizmodo Australia

Using a polishing technique previously employed in the semiconductor industry, a professor has discovered that it's possible to make a tooth too slick to have bacteria stick to. For reals.

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Bounce Water, Bounce!

A super slo-mo video shows water, water everywhere (but not a drop absorbed)

Call us obsessed, but we can't get enough high-speed video. The scientists at GE turned us on to this footage of water bouncing off a superhydrophobic surface. As the droplets come into contact with the extremely water-resistant surface (in this case, some unknown nanoparticle-based surface, possibly nanopin film), they smash into bits and rearrange Terminator-style, bounce like a basketball and generally retain their perfect-droplet shape.

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Tiny Magnets to Capture Cancer

Scientists use magnetic nanoparticles to reign in cancer cells

Catching cancer before it metastasizes, or spreads throughout the body, is one way to increase your chances of survival. Now scientists may have found a way to help even when cancer is already on the move, by using magnets to lasso cancer cells and drag them out of the body. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have shown that magnetic nanoparticles—tiny shards of magnetic metal, less than a hundred thousandths of an inch in diameter—can be attached to cancer cells, which can then be manipulated and moved with another magnet.

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Using Nanotech to Shut Down Troublesome Genes

MIT scientists say they've found a new way to silence disease-causing genes in specific tissues using RNA interference

For years scientists have been touting a disease-fighting technique called RNA interference. The idea behind it is pretty simple: By piggybacking on the body's own system for silencing genes, researchers think they could stop troublesome proteins from being produced, and, as a result, halt the damage those proteins cause. The trick, though, is that scientists have had a hard time figuring out how to make RNAi, as it's known, work on specific tissues.

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Not Your Average Wall-Climber

Engineers find that ivy uses nanoparticles to climb walls

It's about time someone recognized ivy's ability to stick to walls, especially with geckos getting all the headlines lately. You had to figure that at some point a few scientists were going to sit down and start figuring out how to transfer ivy's sticky technique to man-made materials. Now researchers from the University of Tennessee and Agilent Labs have determined that ivy actually secretes tiny nanoparticles to bind to surfaces.

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Targeted Morphine on the Battlefield

Nanotech expert James Baker of the University of Michigan is now turning his attention to the battlefield, hoping that tiny drug-carrying particles could one day help injured soldiers. Baker, who has also been exploring the use of nanoparticles as diagnostic tools for astronauts on missions to Mars, thinks nanotech could be used to deliver painkillers to injured troops as they wait for medical attention.

Morphine, one of the military's preferred painkillers today, is far from ideal because trained medical personnel need to administer it - the soldier, or someone in his group, can't just give it to himself. What Baker envisions is a pen-like device that a soldier would use to inject a stream of drug-bearing nanoparticles into an injured area. The nanoparticles might deliver a slow release of morphine, keeping the soldier comfortable and stable until he or she gets proper care. But it would also be able to counteract one of the dangerous side effects of morphine, the suppression of regular breathing. If necessary, the particles would release a drug that fights these negative effects, keeping the soldier stable. For now the work will be limited to lab studies, but it could be tested in animals before too long.—Gregory Mone

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