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Delivering medicine to just one cell 2010-Jul-08 at 13:04 PDT

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OK, you got it.

From Nanowires Deliver Biochemical Payloads to One Cell Among Many, 08-July-2010

A team of researchers affiliated with Johns Hopkins University Institute for NanoBioTechnology used precise electrical fields as “tweezers” to guide and place gold nanowires (metallic cylinders a few hundred nanometers or smaller in diameter) on predetermined spots, each on a single cell.

Molecules coating the surfaces of the nanowires then triggered a biochemical cascade of actions only in the cell where the wire touched, without affecting other cells nearby. The researchers say this technique could lead to better ways of studying individual cells or even cell parts, and eventually could produce novel methods of delivering medication.

With the new technique the researchers can, for instance, target cells that have cancer properties (higher cell division rate or abnormal morphology), while sparing their healthy neighbors.

The ultimate cure for cancer is: more clearly identify all of the things we have floating around in our ecosystem right now that are truly carcinogenic and eliminate them (and you know there are lots of things that just take a while to accumulate), and, at the same time, develop these one-cell-at-a-time kind of treatments.  Here’s your real-time update on the pure research going into that.

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Sequencing the genome for $1,000 or less 2010-Jul-07 at 18:28 PDT

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From The amazing race for the cheapest and fastest DNA machine, by Boonsri Dickinson, 4-Mar-2010

In the past decade, the cost of sequencing an entire human genome has dropped from $1 billion to $10,000. As companies race to crack the $1,000 genome, the contending DNA machines in the marketplace suggest an end is near.

Now, there are 18 next generation sequencing companies who want to read parts of the DNA code — and they want to do it faster. Everyone is performing at their own pace. Six of the companies have sequencing machines that are working and are available. Six startups have shown their machines work and are expected to roll out commercial machines soon. And the other six are still working on demonstrating their technology.

So, that’s eighteen different companies and machines competing to make the best, most accurate, most cost-effective way to sequence the genome.

Another exponential growth curve in action… it’s only a matter of time until it costs less than $10 and takes seconds to do.  Combine that with nanotechnology-based manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, and we’ve got instant, custom-created-for-you, cures to most every disease we’re aware of today.

The impact of the coming medical technologies for children 2010-Jul-04 at 00:55 PDT

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Here’s a 0:50 clip of an 8-month-old deaf baby reacting to having his cochlear implants turned on for the first time, and hearing his mother’s voice:

Cool, right?  Imagine every childhood disease, and every form of birth defect, we have in today’s world.  And imagine that all of them – all of them – are gone in 25-30 years.  Cancer, diabetes, leukemia, deafness, blindness… you name it, it’ll be easily curable.  That’s the power of the nanotechnology and related biotechnology that’s coming.

P.S. Yes, yes, I know, it’s “differently-abled.”  Whatever.  Either way, it won’t be around anymore.

A silver lining to the oil spill 2010-Jun-06 at 00:37 PDT

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I find that it’s helpful, when one is stuck is a bad situation, to take as broad a perspective as possible and ask some simple questions: What’s the benefit of this?  What can we get out of it?  How will this bring long-term positive change?

Now, finding the best possible silver lining out of horrible situations does not mean that the positive outcomes make going through the tragedy worthwhile on balance.  In this case… yeah, the oil spill sucks.

But there’s really only one way we’re going to clean up the worst (by multiples) oil spill of all time, in less than a decade: nanotechnology and biotechnology.

I want to see Craig Venter inventing a new bacteria that eats oil better than ever before.  I want to see nanobots that travel through the water and gather oil and bring it back to a home ship.  I want to see research colleges stepping up.  I want to see us invent our way into speeding up the clean-up.

There is an opportunity to speed up both fields right now, and there’s no limit to the amount of millions of dollars that would be available right now from investors if someone took a serious run at this.

I’m betting that within a couple of years we’ll have some amazing breakthroughs to help the long-term clean-up effort… and we’ve definitely got years of that to come, followed by more years where we’re seeing a repopulation of the waters.

And, again, I wish we didn’t have to, but we do.