Tag Archives: cancer

OMFG Nanotubes Cause Cancer!

asbestosIn typical Daily Mail style I begin with the ever-dependable “X Causes Cancer Shock” blog post. [image by shaymus]

That’s right! The Magic Molecules of the Future or carbon nanotubes – shortly to be used in every worthwhile human pursuit from watching pornography to curing cancer – may in fact cause cancer themselves.

That is to say: a couple of studies, one published in Nature Nanotechnology and another published by The Japanese Journal of Toxicological Science suggest that certain kinds of carbon nanotubes induce lesions and mesothelioma in a manner similar to another wonder-material, asbestos.

The report in Nature suggests that nanotubes longer than about 20 nm micrometers are the chief culprits:

Carbon nanotubes that are straight and 20 micrometers or longer in length–qualities that are well suited for composite materials used in sports equipment–resemble asbestos fibers. This has long led many experts to suggest that these carbon nanotubes might pose the same health risks as asbestos, a fire-resistant material that can cause mesothelioma, a cancer of a type of tissue surrounding the lungs. But until now, strong scientific evidence for this theory was lacking.

Fortunately in order to be as thoroughly unpleasant as asbestos, carbon nanotubes would need to become airborne and and be inhaled, something that carbon nanotubes are apparently not inclined to do.

As ever, more research is needed.

From a science fictional perspective: what will be the tabloid healthcare-stories of decades hence?

The problem with things like asbestos and thalidomide is that their terrible side-effects only come to light after millions of lives are damaged. And these tragedies are by definition black swans, inherently unpredictable and devastating with it.

Where is the next hubristic-but-unpredictable human-derived disaster going to come from? Carbon nanotubes? Quantum computing? Could it be something so boringly innocuous that you use it every day without thinking, whilst it eats away at every cell in your body?

I’m not talking about global warming or bird flu – I mean really out-there, mind-blowingly awful stuff we haven’t thought of yet. Stuff that’s affecting us right now that we don’t know about.

Anyway, less gloom and more cheer. Here is a funny story about a crazy luddite!

UCLA researchers design nanomachine that kills cancer cells

cancer cells Well, as long as I’m posting about nanotechnology, check this out (Via PhysOrg):

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]

Nano explosives to super-shock the cancer away

Exploding nanoparticles could help save your life without all the side effects of chemotherapyThose nanoparticles sure are handy. Whether it’s increasing the efficiency of computer chips and solar cells, giving prosthetic limbs sensation or extending the lifetime and capacity of batteries, the applications of the rapidly advancing technology are seemingly endless.

A collaboration of researchers from the US Army and the University of Missouri-Columbia have found that by mixing a nanomaterial that acts as a fuel and one that acts as an oxidizer, they can create explosions that are on such a small scale they are useable within the human body. These ‘nanoengineered thermites’ can create shockwaves that can target drug-delivery to cancer cells, leaving nearby normal cells unharmed. They hope to bring the technology into a working prototype within 2 to 5 years.

[story and image via The Daily Galaxy]

Electrical fields trounce brain tumors

If you have a friend or co-worker with a paranoid streak (or who simply consumes too much tabloid media), they may have informed you that electrical fields can cause cancers to form in your brain. Well, now you can tell them that the opposite is the case – an Israeli company has developed a device for killing brain tumors using weak electrical fields. Of course, your friend will just tell you how that’s what the Illuminati want you to think, but that’s half the fun. [BeyondTheBeyond]