Articles from October 2013



Brain Cancer: How To Silence A Deadly Gene

Incurable Brain Cancer Gene Is Silenced. A research team from Northwestern University is the first to demonstrate delivery of a drug that turns off a critical gene in this complex cancer, Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), increasing survival rates significantly. In animals with GBM, the survival rate increased nearly 20 percent, and tumor size was reduced three to four fold, as compared to the control group. This brain cancer that killed Sen. Edward Kennedy and kills approximately 13,000 Americans a year, is aggressive and incurable. The median survival rate is 14 to 16 months, and approximately 16,000 new cases are reported in the U.S. every year

brain cancer2

My research group is working to uncover the secrets of cancer and, more importantly, how to stop it,” said Stegh, a senior co-author of the study. “Glioblastoma is a very challenging cancer, and most chemo-therapeutic drugs fail in the clinic. The beauty of the gene we silenced in this study is that it plays many different roles in therapy resistance. Taking the gene out of the picture should allow conventional therapies to be more effective.
Stegh is an assistant professor in the Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and an investigator in the Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute.
Source: http://www.northwestern.edu/

“All-In-One Tool” Janus Against Cancer

University of Cincinnati researchers have developed a unique nanostructure that can, because of its dual-surface structure, serve as an improved “all-in-one tool” against cancer. A unique nanostructure developed by a team of international researchers, including those at the University of Cincinnati, promises improved all-in-one detection, diagnoses and drug-delivery treatment of cancer cells. The first-of-its-kind nanostructure is unusual because it can carry a variety of cancer-fighting materials on its double-sided (Janus) surface and within its porous interior. Because of its unique structure, the nano carrier can do all of the following:
Transport cancer-specific detection nanoparticles and biomarkers to a site within the body, e.g., the breast or the prostate. This promises earlier diagnosis than is possible with today’s tools.
Attach fluorescent marker materials to illuminate specific cancer cells, so that they are easier to locate and find for treatment, whether drug delivery or surgery.
Deliver anti-cancer drugs for pinpoint targeted treatment of cancer cells, which should result in few drug side effects. Currently, a cancer treatment like chemotherapy affects not only cancer cells but healthy cells as well, leading to serious and often debilitating side effects.
nanostructure all-in-one-tool The first-of-its-kind nanostructure is unusual because it can carry a variety of cancer-fighting materials on its double-sided (Janus) surface and within its porous interior

In this effort, we’re using existing basic nano systems, such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, iron oxides, silica, quantum dots and polymeric nano materials in order to create an all-in-one, multidimensional and stable nano carrier that will provide imaging, cell targeting, drug storage and intelligent, controlled drug release,” said UC’s Professor of materials science and engineering Shi, adding that the nano carrier’s promise is currently greatest for cancers that are close to the body’s surface, such as breast and prostate cancer.
Source: http://www.uc.edu/

Public Ready To Pay For Infos When Nanotech is Used in Food

New research from North Carolina State University (NC State) and the University of Minnesota finds that people in the United States want labels on food products that use nanotechnology – whether the nanotechnology is in the food or is used in food packaging. The research also shows that many people are willing to pay more for the labeling. Study participants were particularly supportive of labeling for products in which nanotechnology had been added to the food itself, though they were also in favor of labeling products in which nanotechnology had only been incorporated into the food packaging.
Hamburger made from a stem cell

We wanted to know whether people want nanotechnology in food to be labeled, and the vast majority of the participants in our study do,” says Dr. Jennifer Kuzma, senior author of a paper on the research and Professor of Public Administration at NC State. “Our study is the first research in the U.S. to take an in-depth, focus group approach to understanding the public perception of nanotechnology in foods.”

The researchers convened six focus groups – three in Minnesota and three in North Carolina – and gave study participants some basic information about nanotechnology and its use in food products. Participants were then asked a series of questions addressing whether food nanotechnology should be labeled.

Source: http://news.ncsu.edu/

Peroskite, Magic Material To Mass-produce Solar Cells

The next generation solar cell, made from organic-inorganic hybrid perovskite materials, is about five times cheaper than current thin-film solar cells, due to a simpler solution-based manufacturing process. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) scientists in Singapore, show that this unique characteristic of perovskite is quite remarkable since it is made from a simple solution method that normally produces low quality materials. Perovskite is known to be a remarkable solar cell material as it can convert up to 15 per cent of sunlight to electricity, close to the efficiency of the current solar cells, but scientists did not know why or how, until now.
peroskite solar cellIn our work, we utilise ultrafast lasers to study the perovskite materials. We tracked how fast these materials react to light in quadrillionths of a second (roughly 100 billion times faster than a camera flash),” said the Singaporean photophysics expert Assistant Professor Sum from NTU’s School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
In a paper published in the journal Science, NTU‘s interdisciplinary research team explains this phenomenon.
Source: http://news.ntu.edu.sg/
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http://physicsworld.com/

How To Extend The Range Of Electric Cars

Next-generation lithium-ion batteries made with iron oxide nanoparticles could extend the driving distance of electric cars.
Battery-powered cars offer many environmental benefits, but a car with a full tank of gasoline can travel further. By improving the energy capacity of lithium-ion batteries, a new electrode made from iron oxide nanoparticles could help electric vehicles to cover greater distances. Developed by Zhaolin Liu of the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, Singapore, and Aishui Yu of Fudan University, China, and co-workers, the electrode material is inexpensive, suitable for large-scale manufacturing and can store higher charge densities than the conventional electrodes used in lithium-ion batteries.

Electric vehicles could travel further when powered by a higher-capacity lithium-ion battery made with inexpensive iron oxide nanoparticles
During the 1st round of charging and discharging, the anodes showed an efficiency of 75–78%, depending on the current density. After ten more cycles, however, the efficiency improved to 98%, almost as high as commercial li-ion batteries.

Source: http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/

How To Produce Cheap Plastic Solar Cells

Photovoltaic devices, which tap the power of the sun and convert it to electricity, offer a green — and potentially unlimited alternative to fossil fuel use. So why haven’t solar technologies been more widely adopted?
Quite simply, “they’re too expensive,” says Ji-Seon Kim, a senior lecturer in experimental solid-state physics at Imperial College London, who, along with her colleagues, has come up with a technology that might help bring the prices down.
The scientists describe their new approach to making cheaper, more efficient solar panels in a paper in The Journal of Chemical Physics.
polymer blend morphologyThe polymer blend morphology without (left) and with (right) nanowires

To collect a lot of sunlight you need to cover a large area in solar panels, which is very expensive for traditional inorganic — usually silicon — photovoltaics,” explains Kim. The high costs arise because traditional panels must be made from high purity crystals that require high temperatures and vacuum conditions to manufacture.
A cheaper solution is to construct the photovoltaic devices out of organic compounds—building what are essentially plastic solar cells. Organic semiconducting materials, and especially polymers, can be dissolved to make an ink and then simply “printed” in a very thin layer, some 100 billionths of a meter thick, over a large area. “Covering a large area in plastic is much cheaper than covering it in silicon, and as a result the cost per Watt of electricity-generating capacity has the potential to be much lower,” she says.
Source: http://www.newswise.com/

Solar Cells That Produce Electricity 24/7

Solar cells that produce electricity 24/7, not just when the sun is shining. Mobile phones with built-in power cells that recharge in seconds and work for weeks between charges. These are just two of the possibilities raised by a novel supercapacitor design invented by material scientists at Vanderbilt University, located at Nashville, USA. It is the first supercapacitor that is made out of silicon so it can be built into a silicon chip along with the microelectronic circuitry that it powers. In fact, it should be possible to construct these power cells out of the excess silicon that exists in the current generation of solar cells, sensors, mobile phones and a variety of other electromechanical devices, providing a considerable cost savings.
SupercapacitorSilicon chip with porous surface next to the special furnace where it was coated with graphene to create a supercapacitor electrode
The big challenge for this approach is assembling the materials,” said Pint. “Constructing high-performance, functional devices out of nanoscale building blocks with any level of control has proven to be quite challenging, and when it is achieved it is difficult to repeat.” said Cary Pint, assistant professor at Vanderbilt University.
The findings are described in a paper published in the Oct. 22 issue of the journal Scientific Reports.

Source: http://news.vanderbilt.edu

New Sensor For Detecting Glucose In The Saliva

Researchers at Purdue University are developing a method to mass-produce a new type of nanomaterial for advanced sensors and batteries. Research findings indicate the material shows promise as a sensor for detecting glucose in the saliva or tears and for “supercapacitors” that could make possible fast-charging, high-performance batteries. However, for the material to be commercialized researchers must find a way to mass-produce it at low cost.

nanosheetsThese color-enhanced scanning electron microscope images show nanosheets resembling tiny rose petals. The nanosheets are key components of a new type of biosensor that can detect minute concentrations of glucose in saliva, tears and urine. The technology might eventually help to eliminate or reduce the frequency of using pinpricks for diabetes testing
It’s one thing to say you’ve got a new wonder material, but can you prove that it can be made on a commercial scale?” said Arvind Raman, Robert V. Adams Prof. of Mechanical Engineering. In many cases we find that fundamental research needs to be done for scaling up. You want to be able to produce large quantities of the material at 50 cents per square meter.
Source: http://www.purdue.edu/

New Type Of Batteries For Electric Cars

Electric vehicle batteries have three problems — they’re big, heavy, and expensive. But what if you could shift EV batteries away from being big blocks under the car and engineer them into the car itself? Research groups at Imperial College London working with Volvo have spent three years developing a way to do exactly that. The researchers are storing energy in nano structure batteries woven into carbon fiber–which can then be formed into car body panels. These panel-style batteries charge and store energy faster than normal EV batteries, and they are also lighter and more eco-friendly.

Volvo-Concept-Coupe-HD

The research team has built a Volvo S80 prototype featuring the panels where the battery panel material has been used for the trunk lid. With the materials used on the doors, roof and hood, estimated range for a mid-size electric car is around 80 miles.
If an electric car were to replace its existing battery components with the new system, it could cut its weight by 15 per cent – it means a car like the Nissan Leaf, that weighs 1795 kilograms, would be about 270 kilograms lighter, thus more efficiency.
Source: http://speedlux.com/

Simple Test To Avoid Deadly Blood Clots

Simple urine test developed by MIT engineers uses nanotechnology to detect dangerous blood clotting. Life-threatening blood clots can form in anyone who sits on a plane for a long time, is confined to bed while recovering from surgery, or takes certain medications. There is no fast and easy way to diagnose these clots, which often remain undetected until they break free and cause a stroke or heart attack. However, new technology from MIT may soon change that: A team of engineers has developed a way to detect blood clots using a simple urine test. The noninvasive diagnostic, described in a recent issue of the journal ACS Nano, relies on nanoparticles that detect the presence of thrombin, a key blood-clotting factor. Such a system could be used to monitor patients who are at high risk for blood clots, says Sangeeta Bhatia, from the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES).senior author of the paper and the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
blood clotSome patients are at more risk for clotting, but existing blood tests are not consistently able to detect the formation of new clots,” says Bhatia, who is also a senior associate member of the Broad Institute and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and IMES.

Source: http://imes.mit.edu/

How To Eradicate Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecological cancers. According to the American Cancer Society 14,000 women will die this year from ovarian cancer. A new treatment have been designed by researchers from the Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and the FIU College of Engineering and Computing what could be a breakthrough. This novel way to deliver cancer-killing drugs using nanotechnology results from a codllaboration between an oncologist and an engineer looking to challenge the odds and save lives.
In their lab experiments, Taxol, a chemotherapy drug used to treat ovarian cancer, was loaded onto a magneto-electric nanoparticle, and using an electric field the drug penetrated into the tumor cells completely destroying the tumor within 24 hours, while sparing normal ovarian cells.
Carolyn D. Runowicz

Sparing healthy cells has been a major challenge in the treatment of cancer, especially with the use of Taxol; so in addition to treating the cancer, this could have a huge impact on side-effects and toxicity,” said Carolyn Runowicz, M.D., professor of gynecology and obstetrics and executive dean for academic affairs at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. “This is an important beginning for us. I’m very excited because I believe that it can be applied to other cancers including breast cancer and lung cancer,” added Sakhrat Khizroev, Ph.D., professor of electrical and computer engineering at the FIU College of Engineering and Computing.

Source: http://news.fiu.edu/

Reconsidering Car Powered With Natural Gas

A discovery at Rice University aims to make vehicles that run on compressed natural gas more practical. The Rice lab of chemist James Tour has enhanced a polymer material to make it far more impermeable to pressurized gas and far lighter than the metal in tanks now used to contain the gas. The combination could be a boon for an auto industry under pressure to market consumer cars that use cheaper natural gas. It could also find a market in food and beverage packaging.

Gas powered car

The idea is to increase the toughness of the tank and make it impermeable to gas,” Tour said. “This becomes increasingly important as automakers think about powering cars with natural gas. Metal tanks that can handle natural gas under pressure are often much heavier than the automakers would like.” He said the material could help to solve long-standing problems in food packaging, too.

Tour and his colleagues at Rice and in Hungary, Slovenia and India reported their results in the online edition of the American Chemistry Society journal ACS Nano.
Source: http://news.rice.edu/