The Future Of Nanotechnology In Cancer Treatments

Nanotechnology in general is the study of creating machines under the size of 100 nanometers and the idea, created by Richard P. Feynman in 1959 has progressed from condensing an entire encyclopedia onto the head of a pin into something truly life changing. In more recent times, many impressive new advances are being made in nanotechnology in the field of medicine, allowing doctors to diagnose cancer earlier through advanced imaging and being able to more effectively treat it with more effectively and safer. With these advances being made, one wonders, will nanotech bring about the cure for cancer?

For years now, oncologists have only been able to view cancerous cells or sites using fairly conventional methods, either using a biopsy, ultrasound, MRI etc. These have been very effective in the detection of cancer; however with the introduction of nanotech in the field of oncology, doctors’ options for cancer detection have been broadened and improved. It is known that the ability to detect cancerous cells or cells in the precancerous stage relies on the ability to monitor slight changes in molecular composition of the affected cells. Many feel that because of its advanced abilities, nanotechnology can be used to do this more precisely than ever before. The devices used are small enough to infiltrate various parts of the human anatomy which were once off limits unless you were on an operating table. Once inside, they can effectively track various toxicity levels, PH levels and other signs of cancerous cells, enabling the oncologist monitoring the results to act sooner, meaning a higher rate of survival. Nanotechnology doesn’t just stop at detection but is being developed to assist in the treatment of cancer as well.

Nanotechnology’s versatility is what is key in the treatment of cancer. These devices can be put into the body loaded with targeting information and powerful cancer treating drugs. The targeting information enables these devices to find the specific cells infected followed by that area being doused with drugs in hope of killing off the cancerous or pre-cancerous cells. Another hope is giving these devices the ability to release their treatment at specific times (possibly sequentially or simultaneously at different locations) to be even more efficient in cancer treatment. Another way they are hoping to utilize nanotechnology is through the use of infrared heat. When nanoshells are in specific cancerous cells, the addition of infrared light creates a temperature increase which is deadly to these cells without causing harm to surrounding cells that do not contain these nanoshells. Another device that is being used for treatment delivery is known as a dendrimer. This has been successful due to the large surface area, enabling researchers to attach lethal amounts of cancer fighting agents while still being small enough to infiltrate cell structures. Despite these breakthroughs for treatment, scientists want more.

The ultimate goal with nanotechnology in oncology is for there to be a single device that does it all. A single device that is able to find, identify, track and eliminate cancerous and precancerous cells in the body. With advances in nanotechnology occurring daily, this technology is truly advancing to new heights. Even though this super device isn’t here yet, oncologists and treatment specialists are still welcoming what they have due to its efficiency and effectiveness as an alternative diagnostic and treatment tool for cancer and know that it is here to stay. As of right now nanotechnology isn’t a cure, but it is a significant step forward in the fight against cancer that will without a doubt save lives and make cancer prevention, detection and eradication more effective than ever before.

Michael Blumreich is a contributor for the aptly named Notebook Review Site, He’s currently a university student and lover of all things tech.

Scientists Create Artificial Life

Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first synthetic living cell.

The researchers constructed a bacterium’s “genetic software” and transplanted it into a host cell.

The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species “dictated” by the synthetic DNA.

The advance, published in Science, has been hailed as a scientific landmark, but critics say there are dangers posed by synthetic organisms.

The researchers hope eventually to design bacterial cells that will produce medicines and fuels and even absorb greenhouse gases.

The team was led by Dr Craig Venter of the J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Maryland and California.

He and his colleagues had previously made a synthetic bacterial genome, and transplanted the genome of one bacterium into another.

Now, the scientists have put both methods together, to create what they call a “synthetic cell”, although only its genome is truly synthetic.

Dr Venter likened the advance to making new software for the cell.

The researchers copied an existing bacterial genome. They sequenced its genetic code and then used “synthesis machines” to chemically construct a copy.

Dr Venter told BBC News: “We’ve now been able to take our synthetic chromosome and transplant it into a recipient cell – a different organism.

“As soon as this new software goes into the cell, the cell reads [it] and converts into the species specified in that genetic code.”

The new bacteria replicated over a billion times, producing copies that contained and were controlled by the constructed, synthetic DNA.

“This is the first time any synthetic DNA has been in complete control of a cell,” said Dr Venter.


Save The Internet – Preserve Net Neutrality!

Greedy corporate bastards want to charge you outrageous amounts of money for all the sites that you are currently taking for granted.

The FCC fights for Net Neutrality, an open Internet.

Recently, the FCC has had a court ruling detrimental to their Net Neutrality cause.

But all is not lost! Net Neutrality can be saved by reclassifying broadband Internet.

Will you sign this petition to give the FCC a helping hand in accomplishing this goal?

Save The Net, Sign This Petition To Help The FCC Fight For Net Neutrality!

Top 10 Revolutionary Technologies

We live in the age of information technology, in which everyone can live out their lives online and communicate in unprecedented ways. We also live in a time when scientific advances in many fields are changing our culture and the way we live our day to day lives. These ten technologies in the list are emerging from the labs and beginning to have practical implementations in our lives. There is, however, still much to learn and develop before they become commonplace.

Augmented Reality
The imposition of information harvested digitally from the internet and then place over the world around us is something that is beginning to trickle through to consumers. Modern smartphones can be harnessed be developers who can produce software that uses their GPS, Wi-Fi and 3G connections in unison with their built-in cameras to provide consumers with information about services and products just by pointing the viewfinder at them. Expect to see advertising and information provided in this way in the future.

Artificial Intelligence
Simulating thought and rationality within machines has always been a dream of science fiction, but increasingly complex programming has been able to come up with a variety of AI techniques over the years. Until recently there has been a lack of interest in AI research and as a result a lack of funding, but the stigma attached to its lofty pretentions is slowly disappearing.

Neuron Control
Scientists have developed the ability to gain biological control over a living brain using what is described as a genetically engineered light switch. With control over neurons, it is possible to turn portions of the brain on or off and could help control mental disorders including depression.

There are several nanotechnologies in development, of which this is just one. It will allow for microscopic fibers to mesh together, closing wounds and reducing the risk of brain damage in severe injuries.

Single-cell Analysis
Recognizing and analyzing the virtually imperceptible differences between distinct cells within humans would allow for improved media treatments and potentially a cure for diseases such as cancer.

Nanocharging Solar
Solar power is expensive and inefficient, but with the nanocharging advances afforded by quantum dot technology, cheap and powerful devices that draw energy from the sun could cut carbon emissions.

P2P Networking
The increasing strain that is put on internet connections by high quality video streaming looks like it will only get worse, but experts believe improvements in peer to peer networking will be the answer.

Light-Focusing Optics
DVDs and even Blu Ray discs offer moderately high capacities, but new advances in laser technology could allow a single disc to hold hundreds of feature-length films in the near future.

Each year sees increasing advances in the field of robotics and scientists are constantly working on techniques to improve movement and generate intelligence that could allow for consumer grade robots to exist.

Automated Diagnostics
Giving medical patients the ability to monitor their own conditions and administer the correct help using individual computers which can scan brainwaves and track heartbeats will help to personalize medicine according to experts.

All of these technologies are bound to converge and we are seeing current generations smartphones available as part of O2 deals bring together technologies into a single package.

A Startup That Builds Biological Parts

 In a warehouse building in Boston, wedged between a cruise-ship drydock and Au Bon Pain’s corporate headquarters, sits Ginkgo BioWorks, a new synthetic-biology startup that aims to make biological engineering easier than baking bread. Founded by five MIT scientists, the company offers to assemble biological parts–such as strings of specific genes–for industry and academic scientists.

“Think of it as rapid prototyping in biology–we make the part, test it, and then expand on it,” says Reshma Shetty, one of the company’s cofounders. “You can spend more time thinking about the design, rather than doing the grunt work of making DNA.” A very simple project, such as assembling two pieces of DNA, might cost $100, with prices increasing from there.

Synthetic biology is the quest to systematically design and build novel organisms that perform useful functions, such as producing chemicals, using genetic-engineering tools. The field is often considered the next step beyond metabolic engineering because it aims to completely overhaul existing systems to create new functionality rather than improve an existing process with a number of genetic tweaks.


This is the stuff we need.

Why bother repairing our failing tissues for decades on end when you can just replace them with new ones?

From an engineering standpoint, this is just a plain and simple practical solution!

Science Academies: renewable power tech ready for big growth

The US National Academies of Science has looked at the potential for renewable power in its home country, and determined that current solar and wind technologies could probably scale to supply 20 percent of our electricity. Beyond that, however, we’re going to need to fix the grid.

A number of renewable energy technologies are poised for significant growth. Wind turbine production is booked for several years, while several companies have reached the point where they’re able to produce a Gigawatt of capacity annually. Although the US has started from a small base, these power sources have grown at an annual rate of about 20 percent for most of the past decade, a period in which demand only grew about one percent annually. The US National Academies of science has now examined the prospects for continued growth, and sees no limits within the next decade and beyond, but, should growth continue, there are going to have to be significant changes to our national grid.

The report was prepared as part of the America’s Energy Future Project, which is supported by everyone from General Electric to the Kavli and Keck charitable foundations. It’s the second of several planned reports; the next one will target prospects for energy-efficient technology.

The report excludes hydropower, which is renewable, but constrained by the availability of appropriate water resources. At the moment, these other sources—geothermal, solar, biomass, and wind—account for about 2.5 percent of US electricity generating capacity, and estimates are that, under a business-as-usual scenario, they would reach eight percent by 2030. The report addresses the question of whether they’d be capable of scaling, should the US determine it wanted to increase reliance on these technologies (the total available solar and wind energy within the US, at 13.9 million TWh, dwarfs any reasonable future projections of demand). The authors limited their consideration of biomass use because they felt it was likely that the government would promote its use as a transportation fuel.


Lung-on-a-chip could replace countless lab rats

“MICROLUNGS” grown from human tissue might one day help to replace the vast numbers of rats used to check the safety of drugs, cosmetics and other chemicals. The work is part of a growing drive to develop toxicology tests based on human cells as a replacement for animal testing.

Such efforts are made partly for ethical concerns, and partly because animal testing is so time-consuming and expensive. For example, the European Union’s REACH regulations require about 30,000 chemicals to be tested for toxicity over the next decade. Yet testing the effects of inhaling a single dose of a particular chemical typically requires more than 200 rats, while testing the chronic effects of breathing it in over time can take more than 3000. Meanwhile the EU Cosmetics Directive – which covers items from deodorants and perfume to air-fresheners – seeks to ban all tests of cosmetics on animals by 2013.

The obvious alternative is to test chemicals on human cells grown in the lab. The difficulty, however, lies in enticing those cells to form complex tissue that responds as our organs do.


Cells Are Like Robust Computational Systems, Scientists Report

Gene regulatory networks in cell nuclei are similar to cloud computing networks, such as Google or Yahoo!, researchers report today in the online journal Molecular Systems Biology. The similarity is that each system keeps working despite the failure of individual components, whether they are master genes or computer processors.

This finding by an international team led by Carnegie Mellon University computational biologist Ziv Bar-Joseph helps explain not only the robustness of cells, but also some seemingly incongruent experimental results that have puzzled biologists.

“Similarities in the sequences of certain master genes allow them to back up each other to a degree we hadn’t appreciated,” said Bar-Joseph, an assistant professor of computer science and machine learning and a member of Carnegie Mellon’s Ray and Stephanie Lane Center for Computational Biology.

Between 5 and 10 percent of the genes in all living species are master genes that produce proteins called transcription factors that turn all other genes on or off. Many diseases are associated with mutations in one or several of these transcription factors. However, as the new study shows, if one of these genes is lost, other “parallel” master genes with similar sequences, called paralogs, often can replace it by turning on the same set of genes.


Scientists invent 1.2nm molecular gear

Scientists from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), led by Professor Christian Joachim, have scored a breakthrough in nanotechnology by becoming the first in the world to invent a molecular gear of the size of 1.2nm whose rotation can be deliberately controlled. This achievement marks a radical shift in the scientific progress of molecular machines and is published in Nature Materials, one of the most prestigious journals in materials science.

Said Prof Joachim, “Making a gear the size of a few atoms is one thing, but being able to deliberately control its motions and actions is something else altogether. What we’ve done at IMRE is to create a truly complete working gear that will be the fundamental piece in creating more complex molecular machines that are no bigger than a grain of sand.”

Prof Joachim and his team discovered that the way to successfully control the rotation of a single-molecule gear is via the optimization of molecular design, molecular manipulation and surface atomic chemistry. This was a breakthrough because before the team’s discovery, motions of molecular rotors and gears were random and typically consisted of a mix of rotation and lateral displacement. The scientists at IMRE solved this scientific conundrum by proving that the rotation of the molecule-gear could be wellcontrolled by manipulating the electrical connection between the molecule and the tip of a Scanning Tunnelling Microscope while it was pinned on an atom axis.

Opening Doors on the Way to a Personal Robot

Consider it one small step — or a roll, actually — for a robot, one not giant, but significant step for robotics.

Willow Garage, a Silicon Valley robotics research group, said that its experimental PR2 robot, which has wheels and can travel at speeds up to a mile and a quarter per hour, was able to open and pass through 10 doors and plug itself into 10 standard wall sockets in less than an hour. In a different test, the same robot completed a marathon in the company’s office, traveling 26.2 miles. PR2 will not compete with humans yet; it took more than four days.

For the person who wants to buy a fully functioning robot butler, this may not seem so impressive. But for roboticists and a new generation of technologists in Silicon Valley, this is a significant achievement, a step along the way to the personal robot industry.

Willow Garage was founded by Scott Hassan, one of the designers of the original Google search engine. The company’s name is a reference to a small garage on Willow Road in Menlo Park, Calif., which was Google’s first office. The company is trying to develop a new generation of robotic personal assistants. Roboticists here and at other companies envision creating something on the scale of the personal computer industry, with mechanical personal assistants taking over a lot of drudgery, from cleaning up to fetching a beer from the refrigerator.