Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A Nanofactory In A Pill?

Date:
March 21, 2007
Source:
University Of Maryland
Summary:
The list of side effects on your prescription bottle may one day be a lot shorter, according to researchers at the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering. That's because instead of taking a conventional medication, you may swallow tiny "nanofactories," biochemical machines that act like cells, first conceived of at the Clark School.

Scanning electron microscope image of the magnetic nanofactories attached to targeted E. coli cells.
Credit: Clark School of Engineering: University of Maryland

The list of side effects on your prescription bottle may one day be a lot shorter, according to researchers at the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering.

That's because instead of taking a conventional medication, you may swallow tiny "nanofactories," biochemical machines that act like cells, first conceived of at the Clark School.

For example, these ingested nanofactories, using magnetism, could detect a bacterial infection, produce a medication using the body's own materials, and deliver a dose directly to the bacteria. The drug would do its work only at the infection site, and thus not cause the side effects that may arise when an antibiotic travels throughout the body in search of infections.

William Bentley, professor and chair of the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the Clark School, and several graduate students including Rohan Fernandes, have developed this "magnetic nanofactory" concept and published their research in Metabolic Engineering in December of last year. Colleagues around the country voiced their support for the technology in Nature Nanotechnology last month.

"In the lab," Bentley says, "our group showed we can produce a tiny nanofactory and attach it to a target cell magnetically. The nanofactory then makes small molecules from surrounding materials and delivers the molecules—potentially drug molecules—to the targeted cell."

Besides drug molecules, the researchers showed that the nanofactory could produce signaling molecules that communicate with the target cell or block the target cell from communicating with other, similar cells (a process called "quorum sensing") and thus prevent infection. The researchers attached the nanofactories to E. coli cells, targeting them with the help of a mixture of iron particles and chitosan, a substance derived from the shells of crustaceans like crabs and shrimp. The nanofactories then produced a signaling molecule that could render the E. coli harmless. Nanofactories could be designed to produce the needed drug molecules over an extended period of time.

Now that the viability of nanofactories has been shown, researchers must overcome a few challenges before they can be used in humans. First, nanofactories must be cloaked so that the body does not react to them as a foreign substance and try to attack them. Another goal is to find a method to shut down the nanofactory once it has produced the needed substance—a type of off-switch that could be activated from outside the body. These and other topics are being investigated in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University Of Maryland. "A Nanofactory In A Pill?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070320125351.htm>.
University Of Maryland. (2007, March 21). A Nanofactory In A Pill?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070320125351.htm
University Of Maryland. "A Nanofactory In A Pill?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070320125351.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) If you've ever watched "Back to the Future Part II" and wanted to get your hands on a hoverboard, well, you might soon be in luck. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) British scientists have developed a prototype graphene paint that can make coatings which are resistant to liquids, gases, and chemicals. The team says the paint could have a variety of uses, from stopping ships rusting to keeping food fresher for longer. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Airlines Swanky New Plane

China Airlines Swanky New Plane

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) China Airlines debuted their new Boeing 777, and it's more like a swanky hotel bar than an airplane. Enjoy high-tea, a coffee bar, and a full service bar with cocktails and spirits, and lie-flat in your reclining seats. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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