Biology

||Bio-markers

One of the most versatile and affordable methods available, bio-markers use fluorescent response of tagged molecules of interest. The key is to use an array of fluorescent tags which collectively provide enough information to identify a molecule of interest. HIV, syphilis and other infectious diseases may be tested by the mChip.

 

||Cells and nanomedicine

Human cells constantly interact with their surroundings: up-taking, releasing, communicating, defending etc. Introducing nanostructures into the picture provides a more comprehensive understanding of our health. Au fractal nanostructures that mimic the surfaces of cancer cells are found to attract the cancer cells with excellent specificity. Moreover, controlled release of the cancer cells with a viability of ca. 95% is possible by electrochemical bond cleavage for subsequent assessment and screening.

Magnetic NPs (e.g. iron oxide), could be functionalized to be drawn into a cell surface receptor. At this point, a magnetic field is applied to destroy the cell. Several mechanisms may be possible, of which apoptosis (programmed cell death) seems to be likely as the lyposome become permeabilized. Cell heating and NP rapid rotation may also contribute disrupt the lysosomal membrane. Magnetic NPs may also be embedded into a nanofiber mesh to reduce their diffusion and possible side effects. They may also be coated with nontoxic polymer polyethylene glycol and assist in the delivery of mesenchymal stem cells.

Au NPs are also effective therapy agents. Cationic Au NPs of 2 nm diameter could be delivered to and pass straight through the lipid membrane and embed themselves deeply within the floating bilayer, destabilising the entire membrane structure sufficiently to completely destroy the cell. NP penetration thus also facilitates improvements in photodynamic therapy that may be activated by ultraviolet, visible, and most recently infrared light. In contrast, anionic NPs do not penetrate the lipid membrane.

However, the shape of the NPs is also non-trivial. For example, nanorods with a higher aspect ratio adhere more effectively to endothelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels.

||Heart

Some cells in our bodies will not be automatically replaced or repaired. This is considered to be true for our heart. As with bone growth, there may be some way of improving the biosurface to enhance the ability of cardiomyocytes  (cardiac muscle cells) to attach, to proliferate, and secrete.

One solution is to use a hydrogel that is flexible enough to accommodate the stretching and contractions of the heart. The hydrogel may also be doped with CNTs to make it more conductive. This will provide a better synchronization and faster acceptance of a synthetic material within the heart. Gold coated  polycaprolactone–gelatin nanofibers can also enhance signaling.

||Nano robots

This is what it was all about. A robot that can automatically cruise our blood stream and keep us healthy. In one example, nano robots may act as an anti-tetanus agent to destruct the invasive C.tetani bacteria. Moreover, it can denaturize the arising TeTx toxin that may lead to severe muscular spasms and death.

 

||Volatile organic compounds (VOC)

Pre-clinical preparation for VOC analysis would require not to wear any perfume, deodorant or even antiperspirants. If fact, the smellier, the more airborne chemical molecules that may be detected. The scent of skin is used to differentiate melanoma cells (deadliest form of skin cancer) from normal cells. In this example, CNTs coated with strands of DNA act as an absorbent for subsequent gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis.

||Brain activity

Nematodes, also known as roundworms, are a variety of simple organisms with a worm-like appearance. With the help of one such nematode, called Caenorhabditis elegans, a new imaging technique was developed to monitor brain activity with both high temporal and spatial resolutions. The brain contains a network of neuron cells which process and transmit information. By inserting a fluorescent protein only into the nuclei of each neuron cell, sharper images of their activity are created. These images are scanned as one dimensional light discs by the WF-TeFo microscope and combined into a 3-D video of sculpted light which links brain anatomy to brain function.

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