Nanomachines to fight cancer at California NanoSystems Institute

In the postal mail today is the annual research report (PDF) of the CNSI, California NanoSystems Institute. Last month on Dec. 14 was the dedication ceremony (includes video) for their beautiful new nanotechnology building at UCLA.

Thirteen projects were singled out for coverage in this year’s report. Our favorite is “Nano Machine Center for Targeted Delivery and On-Demand Release”, an “innovative nanoscale drug delivery system that provides on-demand release of water-insoluble cancer drugs at the desired site of cancer cell killing while sparing the rest of the body from drug toxicity.”

The basic delivery device is a mesoporous silica nanoparticle that has been adapted to include storage space for the drugs, motorized nanovalves and other nano machines [emphasis added] that can release or expel the drug from the storage space under the control of specific stimuli, and finally the addition of surface tags that preferentially target cancer cells. This represents a toolbox that can be adapted to address a variety of on-demand release and targeted delivery needs…

(3) Nanovalves have been produced and their operation has been demonstrated.
(4) Nanoimpellers have been produced and their operation has been demonstrated. Of particular importance is that we have demonstrated operation inside cancer cells.

Many other projects utilizing this platform technology are envisioned, including collection of samples and controlling movement through magnetism.

It’s not surprising that we at Foresight are interested in this work, since one of the principal investigators is Fraser Stoddart, who won our recent Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology. Sadly for California nanotech, Dr. Stoddart has just moved to Northwestern University, where he reports being “surrounded by boxes, boxes, boxes in my new (NU) abodes”. Best of luck with the motorized nanovalves!

Meanwhile, back in California, there’s now a web page on the Joint Symposium on Molecular Nanosystems on January 29-30, sponsored by California NanoSystems Institute and Kyushu University Global COE. You can get on the CNSI email list here. —Christine

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