Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nanosensors For Astronauts: Tiny Devices Will Fit Inside Cells; Monitor Signs Of Radiation Damage Or Infection

Date:
July 11, 2002
Source:
University Of Michigan Health System
Summary:
Along with space suits, freeze-dried food and barf bags, tomorrow's astronauts may travel with nanomolecular devices inside their white blood cells to detect early signs of damage from dangerous radiation or infection.

ANN ARBOR, MI -- Along with space suits, freeze-dried food and barf bags, tomorrow's astronauts may travel with nanomolecular devices inside their white blood cells to detect early signs of damage from dangerous radiation or infection.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is investing $2 million to develop this "Star Trek" technology at the University of Michigan Medical School's Center for Biologic Nanotechnology. The three-year research grant is the largest the Medical School has ever received from NASA, according to James R. Baker, Jr., M.D., who will direct the project.

"Our goal is to develop a non-invasive system that, when placed inside the blood cells of astronauts, will monitor continuously for radiation exposure or infectious agents," says Baker, the Ruth Dow Doan Professor of Nanotechnology, a U-M professor of internal medicine and the center's director.

"Radiation-induced illness is a serious concern in space travel," says Baker. "Radiation changes the flow of calcium ions within white blood cells and eventually triggers irreversible cell death. Even if individual incidences of exposure are within acceptable limits, the cumulative effect of radiation can be toxic to cells. So, it's important to monitor continuously for early signs of damage."

U-M scientists will use expertise and technology acquired during an ongoing nanotechnology research study funded by the National Cancer Institute. In this project, U-M researchers are developing intra-cellular devices to sense pre-malignant and cancerous changes inside living cells.

Created from synthetic polymers called dendrimers, the devices are fabricated layer-by-layer into spheres with a diameter of less than five nanometers. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. One million nanometers are equal to the diameter of a pinhead.

Because the nanosensors are so small, Baker says they pass easily through membranes into white blood cells called lymphocytes, where they are in a perfect position to detect the first signs of biochemical changes from radiation.

Nanosensors will avoid problems associated with current much-larger implantable sensors, which can cause inflammation; and eliminate the need to draw and test blood samples. U-M scientists hope the devices can be administered transdermally -- or through the skin -- every few weeks, avoiding the need for injections or IVs during space missions.

"We can attach fluorescent tags to dendrimers, which glow in the presence of proteins associated with cell death," Baker explains. "Our plan is to develop a retinal-scanning device with a laser capable of detecting fluorescence from lymphocytes as they pass one-by-one through narrow capillaries in the back of the eye. If we can incorporate the tagged sensors into enough lymphocytes, a 15-second scan should be sufficient to detect radiation-induced cell damage."

If the first phase of research with lymphocytes is successful, Baker plans to develop nanosensors targeted at other immune system cells to monitor protein markers of infection. U-M scientists will work initially with cell cultures, but plan later testing of the nanosensor technology in research animals.

The NASA-funded research project will require the combined efforts of U-M scientists from many different disciplines and academic units within the university. In addition to Baker, senior members of the research team are Theodore B. Norris, Ph.D., professor of electrical engineering and computer science in the U-M College of Engineering; Bradford G. Orr, Ph.D., professor of physics in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; and Felix de la Iglesia, M.D., adjunct professor of pathology in the Medical School and an adjunct professor of environmental health sciences in the School of Public Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Michigan Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Michigan Health System. "Nanosensors For Astronauts: Tiny Devices Will Fit Inside Cells; Monitor Signs Of Radiation Damage Or Infection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 July 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020711080818.htm>.
University Of Michigan Health System. (2002, July 11). Nanosensors For Astronauts: Tiny Devices Will Fit Inside Cells; Monitor Signs Of Radiation Damage Or Infection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020711080818.htm
University Of Michigan Health System. "Nanosensors For Astronauts: Tiny Devices Will Fit Inside Cells; Monitor Signs Of Radiation Damage Or Infection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020711080818.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins