Nanotechnology-produced wires to swim through blood, attach to, and kill cancer cells

Nanotechnology-produced wires to swim through blood, attach to, and kill cancer cells

Nanowerk News reports that an international nanotech collaboration of American and Korean scientists, funded by the Korean government, has developed multifunctional gold-coated nanowires that are designed to swim through the blood stream and attach to cancerous cells via antibodies against the cancer cells. Exposure to an electromagnetic field should heat the nanowires and destroy the cancerous cells while sparing nearby normal cells. Unfortunately, the University of Idaho press release on which the story is based is light on technical details:

The next big thing in cancer treatment may be hotter, covered in more gold, and even be a better swimmer than recent Olympic champion Michael Phelps.

Scientists at the University of Idaho are engineering multifunctional and dynamic nanowires coated in gold that swim through the bloodstream and attach to specific cancerous cells. Once there, an electromagnetic field heats the nanowires, which destroys the targeted cells. The research is supported by a new $425,000 grant, part of a multimillion dollar project funded by the Korean government as part of the International Global Collaboration Pioneer Program.

“Cancer is a dangerous enemy because radiation and chemical treatments cause a lot of side effects,” said Daniel Choi, associate professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Idaho and leader of the project. “We can’t avoid side effects 100 percent, but these nanowires will minimize the damage to healthy cells.”

The technology involves many steps requiring lots of continuing research, but each of the basic concepts already have been proven in laboratory tests.

Choi and his team have already created nanowires that can “swim” to their targets and heat up when exposed to low frequency electromagnetic fields, which are not harmful to human body. The next step is to make them biocompatible, meaning safe to introduce to the human body, and able to seek out specific cancer cells.

Choi believes the gold plating will take care of the biocompatibility. If not, he has several polymers in mind that he also believes would work.

As for seeking out specific cancer cells, Choi also is a member of and working with a University of Idaho group called BANTech — an interdisciplinary group that integrates nanomaterials research with cell biology and bioscience research. The group has identified several promising candidates for antibodies with which to coat the nanowires that would seek out and attach to specific cancer cells.

Once the technology has proven itself in the laboratory, it will be tested in live animals, and eventually human beings. Several Korean institutions, which are helping in every phase of research, will take the lead in that project. The institutions are Seoul National University, Korea University and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.


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  1. […] COOL: Nanotechnology-produced wires to swim through blood, attach to, and kill cancer cells. […]

  2. Anonymous December 27, 2008 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    But only uneducated backwater wretches would attend or work at the University of idaho, of all places (like that icky Sarah Palin). Please only inform us of what important research is ongoing where it really matters. Is there no research at Harvard that you could be reporting on? Is there not a huge project on gender relations in African tribal communities in the 17th century in the works at Brown? Don’t bother us with the silly concerns of these midwestern “universities” (I use the term loosely).

  3. Anonymous January 1, 2009 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    When will people begin to understand that we cannot control everything in our existence. Everything is already perfect and in divine order. If we mess with this world too much, what are the effects which we would not prefer to happen to us. What about natural cures to cancer which are out in the world that the Earth has already provided for us. What about prevention of cancer in the first place by eating organic foods, exercising and living in a natural flow, without the use of synthetic and harmful drugs which are man made. Before you get yourselves into this nanotechnology too far, remind yourselves of the imperfections of a human – remember that whatever we create will never be perfect, and will always fall apart. Nothing lasts forever exept energy. Don’t be afraid to lose this physical body, because it’s ultimately inevitable…

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