Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: November 1, 2006
Nanotechnology that's Good For People
Foresight note: This research illustrates how nanotechnology will move cancer treatment away from treating the whole body to targeted drug delivery.
Headline: Nanotech triple threat to cancer, New technology finds, flags, and kills tumor cells
New nanotechnology-based treatment developed by researchers at the University of Texas's Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas could double the effectiveness of cancer drugs without increasing side effects, while allowing doctors to see immediately whether the treatment is working.
Nanotechnology-based drug treatments are already starting to be approved for use, but so far they are neither very precise nor very potent. Current cancer-fighting nanomedicine, which involve little more than nanoscopic containers packed with chemotherapy drugs, reaches tumors by leaking through holes in tumor blood vessels and gradually releasing a drug. To kill appreciable amounts of the tumor this way, doctors must flood the body with these drug- bearing nanocarriers, says Jinming Gao, Ph.D., associate professor of oncology and pharmacology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. These can get soaked up by the body's natural filters, such as the liver and spleen, in which they can cause side effects, he says.
Foresight note: The research focuses on multiple use nanoparticles, which will image cancer as well as treat it.
Headline: New method creates porous, multifunctional silica nanoparticles
Silica, the mineral of which sand is made, is generally inert in the body and can be modified easily using a variety of well-established chemical reactions. As such, researchers have considered silica an ideal candidate material from which to create multifunctional nanoparticles.
Indeed, several teams of investigators have crafted porous nanoparticles and shown that these materials hold promise as drug delivery vehicles, imaging agents, and even nanoscale collection devices for cancer markers.
Now, thanks to work from Chung-Yuan Mou, Ph.D., and colleagues at the National Taiwan University in Taipei, researchers have a new method for making silica nanoparticles that not only have carefully sized pores and are of a very narrow size distribution, but that are also magnetic and luminescent. The multiple functionality could enable investigators to create nanoparticles that can both image and treat tumors simultaneously.
Foresight note: Nanotechnology and biology are connected by this research.
Headline: Researchers make nanosheets that mimic protein formation
How to direct and control the self-assembly of nanoparticles is a fundamental question in nanotechnology.
University of Michigan researchers have discovered a way to make nanocrystals in a fluid assemble into free-floating sheets the same way some protein structures form in living organisms.
"This establishes an important connection between two basic building blocks in biology and nanotechnology, that is, proteins and nanoparticles, and this is very exciting for assembling materials from the bottom up for a whole slew of applications ranging from drug delivery to energy," said Sharon Glotzer, professor of chemical engineering and materials science and engineering.
Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet
Foresight note: This is a brief, upbeat survey of nanotechnology and photovoltaics for cheap, abundant solar energy.
Headline: The Photovoltaic Revolution
...Nanosolar has even more ambitious plans and they aren't far behind. As we reported on September 21st in Nanosolar & Conergy Group, within the next two years they intend to have a production line up and producing 430MW of output per year! Both of these companies claim they can replicate these factories all over the world, and both of them claim their manufacturing costs, compared to conventional processes, could drop by a factor of 10x or more...If thin film technology is proven commercially, and we may know this within one year, the worldwide output of photovoltaics will go up by orders of magnitude. If that happens, the promise of cheap, abundant, clean and renewable energy will be well on its way to being realized.
Foresight note: This research may lead the way to future "smart chips."
Headline: Ultraviolet light reveals secrets of nanoscale electronic materials
An international team of scientists has used a novel technique to measure, for the first time, the precise conditions at which certain ultrathin materials spontaneously become electrically polarized. The research provides the fundamental scientific basis for understanding this "ferroelectric" state in materials needed for next-generation "smart card" memory chips and other devices. The research is published in a recent issue of the journal Science.
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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.
Headline: Nanotechnology goes out on a wing, Insect wings used to pattern nanoscale structures
News source: EurekAlert
What does a colorful and noisy backyard insect have to do with nanotechnology? Plenty, according to Jin Zhang and Zhongfan Liu, both professors at Peking University. A team of researchers led by Zhang and Liu have used the wings of cicadas, ubiquitous insects best known for their acoustic skills, as stamps to pattern polymer films with nanometer-sized structures. The wings of these insects are characterized by highly ordered arrays of closely spaced microscopic pillars. When these wings are pushed down upon a smooth polymer film, they create a negative imprint of the array pattern.
News source: Science Daily
A new form of scanning microscopy that simultaneously reveals physical and electronic profiles of metal nanostructures has been demonstrated at JILA, a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and University of Colorado at Boulder. The new instrument is expected to be particularly useful for analyzing the make-up and properties of nanoscale electronics and nanoparticles.
Scanning photoionization microscopy (SPIM), described in a new paper, combines the high spatial resolution of optical microscopy with the high sensitivity to subtle electrical activity made possible by detecting the low-energy electrons emitted by a material as it is illuminated with laser pulses. The technique potentially could be used to make pictures of both electronic and physical patterns in devices such as nanostructured transistors or electrode sensors, or to identify chemicals or even elements in such structures.
Headline: Unfamiliar Exposure
Nanotechnology deals in tiny particles, but its potential risk to insurers is sizeable and nearly impossible to calculate.
Emerging nanotechnologies have the potential to influence and change our lives in ways we could not have imagined as recently as a decade ago. A generic term for applications at the molecular level, nanotechnology will eventually influence every aspect of our lives; from the way we communicate to the methods used to diagnose and treat illness. Nanotechnology will improve efficiencies in energy, computer storage capacity and data processing, security, clothing, food, and shelter.
The potential of nanotechnology is reflected by the amount of revenue currently projected for these technologies, between $1 trillion and $2 trillion within the next 10 to 15 years. And just in time, because according to World Resources 2000 and United Nations press releases, within the next 50 years — less than one lifetime — the world population is expected to grow by 50%, world economic activity is expected to grow 500% and world energy and materials use is expected to grow by 300%.
The global ramifications of these projected numbers are staggering, and the development of new ways to respond to these burgeoning demands is critical.
2nd Modern Drug Discovery & Development Summit
2nd Modern Drug Discovery & Development Summit
Human morbidity and mortality are largely dependent on the ever-elusive world of drug discovery and development. Great scientific and clinical advances, both within chemical and biological driven areas, have been achieved in the past few years. Registrants of the 2nd Modern Drug Discovery & Development Summit will have unlimited access to 11 different conferences including Nanobiotechnology in Drug Discovery.
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.
Nanotechnology can often result in cross-discipline applications. This is a prime example of one type of research with a completely different additional application.
Headline: Scientists see benefits of nanoceria
News source: Physorg.com
A U.S. study suggests cerium oxide — used in polishing glass and in car exhaust systems — might be used to treat various eye disorders and other diseases.
James McGinnis and colleagues at the University of Oklahoma injected cerium oxide nanoparticles into the eyes of rats and discovered the substance can protect the retina against exposure to damaging levels of illumination. If injected after exposure, the nanoparticles assisted recovery.
Headline: Nanotechnology advice from philosopher & physicist surprisingly useful
First a confession: I have not, in fact, read the entire article "Living with Uncertainty: Toward the Ongoing Normative Assessment of Nanotechnology" by Jean-Pierre Dupuy and Alexei Grinbaum of the Ecole Polytechnique in France, published in Techne: Research in Philosophy and Technology. It is about 10,000 words long and has a great deal of philosophy in it, and as a practical person I have limited time for philosophy. My eyes glaze over at sentences such as "The sheer phrasing of the methodology suggests that it rests on the metaphysics of projected time, of which it reproduces the characteristic loop between past and future" and "Only a radical change in metaphysics can allow us to escape from the ethical aporia." Yikes.
So when I ran across this article, I skipped right to the conclusions. And despite my enjoyment of previous discussions with one of the authors, my hopes were not high. But first I was encouraged to see the paper questioning the usefulness of the (presumably strong) Precautionary Principle. Then I found some excellent advice which closely matches what we try to do here at Foresight in our efforts to guide the development of nanotechnology in positive directions:
"Our methodology is a methodology of ongoing normative assessment. It is a matter of obtaining through research, public deliberation, and all other means, an image of the future sufficiently optimistic to be desirable and sufficiently credible to trigger the actions that will bring about its own realization...Importantly, one must note that these two goals, for an image to be both optimistic and credible, are seen as entering in a contradiction. Yet another contradiction arises from the requirement of anticipating a future state early enough, when its features cannot yet be seen clearly, and not waiting until it is too late, when the future is so close to us that it is unchangeable. Both contradictions hint at a necessary balance between the extremes. It is not credible to be too optimistic about the future, but cognitive paralysis arises when the anticipated future is irreparably catastrophic. It is not credible to announce a prediction too early, but it becomes, not a prediction but a matter of fact, if waited for too long. The methodology of ongoing normative assessment prescribes to live with the uncertain future and to follow a certain procedure in continuously evaluating the state of the analyzed system."
Quite so. Someone has to put forward a picture of the desirable situation we are going to try to bring about...
— Christine Peterson
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