Researchers from the Nano Machine Center at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA have developed a novel type of nanomachine that can capture and store anticancer drugs inside tiny pores and release them into cancer cells in response to light. Known as a “nanoimpeller,” the device is the first light-powered nanomachine that operates inside a living cell, a development that has strong implications for cancer treatment.
The study was conducted jointly by Jeffrey Zink, UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Fuyu Tamanoi, UCLA professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. A little further along in the press release:
The pores of the particles can be loaded with cargo molecules, such as dyes or anticancer drugs. In response to light exposure, a wagging motion occurs, causing the cargo molecules to escape from the pores and attack the cell. Confocal microscopic images showed that the impeller operation can be regulated precisely by the intensity of the light, the excitation time and the specific wavelength.
The cells they killed were only in vitro, of course, and there’s the usual caveat:
Tamanoi and Zink say the research represents an exciting first step in developing nanomachines for cancer therapy and that further steps are required to demonstrate actual inhibition of tumor growth.
The accomplishment is detailed in the nanotechnology journal Small. You can find the citation here, but you’ll have to pay to read the article.
And look out for the fine print. One would think that in a nanotechnology journal, it might be very fine indeed.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons.)
[tags]nanotechnology, cancer, medicine, nanomachines[/tags]