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

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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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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A silver lining to the oil spill 2010-Jun-06 at 00:37 PDT

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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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.