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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: October 25, 2006

In this issue:

Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

Foresight note: This research is focused on cleaning the blood of toxins and delivering targeted treatments.

Headline: Biodegradable nanospheres offer novel approach for treatment of toxin exposure and drug delivery
News source: Physorg.com

A new technology to clean the blood of victims of radiological, chemical and biological terrorist attacks is being developed jointly by Argonne National Laboratory, the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute and The University of Chicago Hospitals.

In addition to cleaning biological and radiological toxins from blood, the technology shows promise for delivering therapeutic drugs to targeted cells and organs. The technology uses components approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a novel approach to magnetic filtration.

"The best that doctors can do for most biohazard exposure is supportive treatment," said Michael Kaminski of Argonne's Chemical Engineering Division. "This new system will be designed to directly remove the toxic agents from the bloodstream — quickly and efficiently."

Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

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Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

Foresight note: Nanotubes are shortened to reveal their individuality.

Headline: Modification turns ultra-short nanotubes into molecule-like drug capsules
News source: NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

While most research aimed at developing carbon nanotubes as tumor-targeting drug and imaging agent delivery vehicles has focused on full-length nanotubes, Lon Wilson, Ph.D., and his colleagues at Rice University have been working with ultra-short nanotubes that cells appear to take up more efficiently than their longer counterparts. Now, this group of investigators has developed a method for modifying ultra-short carbon nanotubes so that they do not aggregate into bundles, one of the major problems in using this material in biomedical applications.

Reporting its work in the journal Nanotechnology, the Rice team describes the chemical technique it developed to change the surface properties of ultra-short carbon nanotubes so that they take on a negative charge. Since two objects that each have a negative charge will repel one another, the nanotubes remain as individual entities in solution. This enabled the researchers to further modify the nanotubes so that they can link targeting agents, anticancer drugs, or imaging agents to the nanotubes. This second modification also helps the nanotubes dissolve better in water than unmodified ultra-short nanotubes.

Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

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Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Foresight note: Solar energy and nanotechnology continue to receive a boost in research focus and funding.

Headline: ASU embarks on NSF grant for nanotechnology solar energy initiative
News source: Power Online

Arizona State University (ASU) scientists Rudy Diaz and Stuart Lindsay will lead a research group on a three-year, $1.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation for an innovative project designed to break through the current technological hurdles of solar energy.

Today's solar panels, made up of thousands of individual solar cells, are extremely inefficient and costly to produce, limiting Sunbelt states like Arizona from fully utilizing its most abundant renewable energy resource.

"Over the past decade, ASU has quietly reassembled one of the most comprehensive portfolios of solar-related research programs in the world," says Jonathan Fink, vice-president of ASU's Office of Research and Economic Affairs. "This new award is a prime example of ASU's interdisciplinary approach to solar research and uncovering new ways to better harness, create and utilize solar energy."

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

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Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Foresight note: This is an excellent example of nanotechnology enhancing the capability of information technology to improve our current systems of energy delivery.

Headline: Wireless nanotech sensors could monitor power systems 24/7
News source: Physorg.com

As electric power this week returned to the last of the homes and businesses in Western New York affected by the devastating October snowstorm, researchers at the University at Buffalo were discussing how tiny, nanoscale sensors could make power systems far more resilient.

Engineers with UB's Energy Systems Institute, one of the nation's few academic research centers that studies the fundamentals of electric power, have for the past year been considering how nanoelectronics could dramatically shorten, or in some cases eliminate, crippling power outages.

"Until now, we've had to do everything with wires and that makes it very expensive," said W. James Sarjeanty, Ph.D., James Clerk Maxwell Chair Professor of Electrical Engineering at UB and director of the institute.

"What we're proposing is to use wireless communications, by embedding tiny sensors at every point in the system," he said. "The nanosensors would then send in real-time a signal to a centralized computer using wireless communications. It would monitor the power coming to every home or business in the system at every instant in time."

Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

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Become a member of Foresight

If you are interested in advancing responsible and beneficial nanotechnology, please consider becoming a member. With your support, Foresight will continue to be a leading public interest voice for nanotechnology that will focus on using this powerful technology to improve the health and well-being of people and the planet.

We have membership levels designed for inclusion of all who are interested in our nanotechnology future, whether you are a student, individual or corporate representative.

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Foresight Partners

NSTI Nanotech 2007 - Abstract Deadline is November 17, 2006

The tenth annual NSTI Nanotech 2007 Call for Papers is open. Scheduled for May 20-24, 2007 in Santa Clara, California, NSTI is expanding the event to highlight how nanoscience and nanotechnology research is having an impact on R&D in the Fortune 500 and is collaborating with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in presenting a Symposium on Nanotechnology in Health, Environment & Society.

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Nanotech Research

Headline: Team develops DNA switch to interface living organisms with computers

News source: Physorg.com

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth, UK, have developed an electronic switch based on DNA — a world-first bio-nanotechnology breakthrough that provides the foundation for the interface between living organisms and the computer world.

The new technology is called a 'nanoactuator' or a molecular dynamo. The device is invisible to the naked eye — about one thousandth of a strand of human hair.

The DNA switch has been developed by British Molecular Biotechnology expert Dr. Keith Firman at the University of Portsmouth working in collaboration with other European researchers.

Dr. Firman and his international team have been awarded a 2 million European Commission grant to further develop this ground-breaking new technology.

But the DNA switch has immediate practical application in toxin detection, and could be used in a biodefence role as a biological sensor to detect airborne pathogens.

The future applications are also considerable, including molecular scale mechanical devices for interfacing to computer-controlled artificial limbs.

"The possibilities are very exciting. The nanoactuator we have developed can be used as a communicator between the biological and silicon worlds," Dr Firman said.

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Nanotech News

Headline: UCLA Engineering awarded grant from the NIH to establish Nanomedicine Development Center

News source: Medical News Today

An interdisciplinary team of scientists from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and UC Berkeley's College of Engineering has secured a prestigious federal grant from the National Institutes of Health Roadmap for Medical Research initiative aimed at improving nanomedical research. Their discoveries could enhance methods of curing diseases like cancer as well as viral infections at the molecular scale.

The nanomedicine grant, with a proposed budget of $7 million, will support the new NIH Nanomedicine Development Center for Cell Control, to be led by UCLA Engineering professor Chih-Ming Ho.

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Headline: New report on nanotechnology in European consumer products

News source: nanoWerk

This report provides an overview of nanotechnologically improved consumer products on the market. In addition a comprehensive list of effects and innovations is evaluating what is really "nano" in today's nanotechnology products.

More and more consumer products are branded with the buzzword "nano" or nanotechnology. Are we witnessing the onset of an emerging technology or is it just a sophisticated advertisement strategy? If the technology is true, what is the added value to certain products and does the consumer really benefit?

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Nanotech Events

SEMI NanoForum

SEMI NanoForum
October 31 - November 2, 2006
San Jose, California

Another nanotechnology conference? You bet! Bringing new products to market requires working together like never before. That's why SEMI NanoForum 2006 unites executives from the semiconductor manufacturing and nanotech communities to share expertise and speed commercialization of nano-enabled products across industries.

Session topics include:

  • Nanotechnology and Medicine: The New Frontier
  • NanoEnergy: Powering the Future
  • Nanotechnology: The New Era Of Defense
  • Nanoelectronics: Beyond CMOS

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Hitachi High Technologies America, Inc., Nanotechnology Group

Hitachi High Technologies America, Inc., Nanotechnology Group will host its complimentary fifth annual nanotechnology seminars taking place in three U.S. cities during the week of October 30 - November 3, 2006.

Seminar Information:

Monday, October 30, 2006
Nanotechnology for the Automotive Industry
Madren Conference Center, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
To register email: clemsonnano@hitachi-hta.com

Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Nanotechnology for Materials Science
Marriott Chicago Southwest, 1200 Burr Ridge Pkwy. Burr Ridge, IL 60527
To register email: burridgenano@hitachi-hta.com

Friday, November 3, 2006
Nanotechnology for Information and Biotechnologies
NASA-Ames (Eagle Room Bldg. 493) -- Moffett Field, CA
To register email: nasaamesnano@hitachi-hta.com

For more information please contact Sam Ngak at 925.218.2831 or samphos.ngak@hitachi-hta.com

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Editor's Pick

Dear readers – When reviewing news for this digest, I often read about something that I think is cool, but it doesn't fit within the usual editorial categories of the News Digest. This section highlights a nanotech advance, event or idea that I think is especially cool.

This is a terrific example of a new technology being employed to preserve ancient artwork and restore cultural artifacts.

— Judy

Headline: Nanotechnology saves Renaissance masterpieces, Mayan wallpaintings, and old shipwrecks

News source: nanoWerk

Nanotechnology has recently found practical applications in the conservation and restoration of the world's cultural heritage. Nanoparticles of calcium and magnesium hydroxide and carbonate have been used to restore and protect wall paints, such as Maya paintings in Mexico or 15th century Italian masterpieces. Nanoparticle applications were also used to restore old paper documents, where acidic inks have caused the cellulose fibers to break up, and to treat acidic wood from a 400-year-old shipwreck.

Aside from the enormously rich cultural resources in the city of Florence, it is one of the most suitable places for conservation studies. For example, after the 1966 Florence flood, the Center for Colloid and Surface Science (CSGI) research group at the University of Florence, founded by Prof. Enzo Ferroni and currently directed by Piero Baglioni, was the first academic institution that applied a rigorous scientific approach to the investigation of cultural heritage degradation.

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Policy - Discussion on Nanodot

Headline: Nanotechnology risks? Ask the economists
News source: Nanodot

Darrell Dvorak at MidwestBusiness.com points out that there's often some expertise missing from discussions on nanotech risk:

"Because nanotech operates at the molecular level, there has been much speculation about new, unknown risks of nano products and processes...

"An encouraging development for a fact-based approach is that regulation has been shown to often hurt more than it helps. Led by economists skilled in empirical analysis, a body of intellectual capital has been created that demands answers to tough questions about risk and regulation, such as:

"How should we think about the trade-offs between risks and rewards of regulation, especially at the margins of public safety vs. public benefit?

"How can we improve consideration of harmful, unintended consequences that invariably accompany government attempts to regulate risk?

"What is the impact of both obvious and hidden incentives in generating and controlling risk?

"What would be the impact of much stronger punishments for violating certain regulations?

"How can we improve consideration of the entire chain of events, not just first order effects, set in motion by government attempts to regulate risk?

"But, unfortunately, these questions are not so commonplace as to ensure that they are being asked, much less that any proffered answers are accurate. That's why it's essential that economists skilled in these matters are involved in devising regulatory solutions.

"Yet, economists rarely participate in the public forums about nanotech risk and regulation."

Comments from Christine: He's got a point. So far in these nanorisk debates I've heard nanotech researchers and environmentalists, but few if any economists. Let's get the risk economists included routinely, starting now. Maybe Darrell can give us some names.

— Christine Peterson

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Molecular machines - Discussion on Nanodot

Headline: DNA does tic-tac-toe, molecular motors work together in nanotechnology
News source: Nanodot

Eoin Clancy writes from the Institute for Nanoscale Science & Technology at University of Newcastle:

"...Recent paper published in Nano Letters 'Medium Scale Integration of Molecular Logic Gates in an Automaton' by Joanne Macdonald et al.

"From the abstract: We now report a second-generation deoxyribozyme-based automaton, MAYA-II, which plays a complete game of tic-tac-toe according to a perfect strategy. In silicon terminology, MAYA-II represents the first 'medium-scale integrated molecular circuit', integrating 128 deoxyribozyme-based logic gates, 32 input DNA molecules, and 8 two-channel fluorescent outputs across 8 wells.

"Also, which I thought was even more interesting was another article in the current edition of Nano Letters, 'Biotemplated Nanopatterning of Planar Surfaces with Molecular Motors'.

"From their conclusion: Moreover, biotemplated nanopatterning is a promising tool for in vitro studies on the individual and cooperative action of motorproteins as well as for the reconstitution of complex subcellular machineries in synthetic environments."

Comments from Christine: The first work was done at Columbia and University of New Mexico; the second by a team from Germany, Poland, and the U.S. It's important to note that the DNA "computer" is not meant to be used as a computing device per se — it is too slow. The second project reports that their patterned motors "proved to be highly efficient for the guiding of microtubule transporters." Good to hear these molecular machines are getting some work done!

— Christine Peterson

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Contact Foresight

The Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest is emailed every week to 15,000 individuals in more than 125 countries. Foresight Nanotech Institute is a member-supported organization. We offer membership levels appropriate to meet the needs and interests of individuals and companies.

Judy Conner, Director of Communications at Foresight Nanotech Institute, is the editor of the Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest. If you would like to submit a news item or contact her with comments about the News Digest, please send an email to: editor@foresight.org.

If you would like to browse past issues of the News Digest.

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