With the advent of nanomedicine, the concept of a "magic bullet" to fight cancer is getting closer to reality. Previously an idea straight out of science fiction, researchers around the world are working on perfecting nano- and microscale drug carriers that get injected into the body, transport themselves to the correct target, such as a tumor, and deliver the required dose of a medication or other substance to effectively destroy or repair this target. The controlled drug release required by these systems, however, has proven to be quite a challenging issue. To avoid the side effects of prematurely released toxic cancer drugs on healthy tissues, researchers have designed and fabricated an "active defense" system which could effectively keep the drug entrapped in its carrier in the blood and normal tissues whereas it would allow the explosive drug release under the right physiopathological stimuli once the drug carrier reaches the cancerous tissues.
Repellents play an important role in protecting humans from insect bites. An effective and safe repellent is useful in reducing human-vector contact, and thereby helps in the interruption of vector-borne disease transmission - mosquito bites can cause causes diseases like dengue and malaria. There are two types of repellents - synthetic and natural. DEET and DEPA are two of the best studied and most common active ingredient in insect repellents. Researchers in India have developed a cream of microencapsulated DEPA with two natural biodegradable polysaccharides which increases the efficiency of mosquito repellency from 6 hours to 12 hours. No DEPA-based formulation with up to 12 hours of protection time has been reported so far.
Nitric oxide (NO) is known to possess impressively broad antimicrobial activity due to both its inherent ability to inhibit growth and kill pathogens as well as its function as a potent immunostimulatory signaling molecule. Research data shows that NO is a potentially powerful therapeutic for serious skin and soft-tissue infections, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus) infected wounds. However, as a highly reactive gas, NO has proven difficult to deliver in a convenient and cost effective therapeutic format. This limitation has largely precluded its routine use, even in hospital settings. In new work, researchers have now demonstrated the potential application of NO as an antimicrobial agent in the setting of skin and soft tissue infections.
Curcumin is the star bioactive component responsible for turmeric's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. Recently, it has emerged as one of the most potent chemo-preventive and chemotherapeutic agents. Consequently, there has been a steep rise in the number of research publications and patents starting from the year 2000 onwards. This article presents the findings of a literatre survey and patent analysis on nano-enabled curcumin. There is an upward trend in patenting and publishing activities, which is especially noteworthy from 2007 onwards. One intriguing fact is that the patenting activity is showing a dominating trend in comparison with the scientific research activity suggesting the growing commercial importance of nano-enabled curcumin.
Alzheimer's disease is among the most common brain disorders affecting the elderly population the world over, and is projected to become a major health problem with grave socio-economic implications in the coming decades. The total number of people afflicted by Alzheimer's disease (AD) worldwide today is about 15 million people, a number expected to grow by four times by 2050. This review looks at some of the nanotechnology-enabled approaches that are being developed for early detection and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer's, its therapeutic treatment, and prevention. These potential solutions offered by nanotechnology exemplify the growing significance that it holds for dealing with brain ailments in general.
Microbiology relates to nanoscience at a number of levels. Many bacterial entities are nano-machines in nature, including molecular motors like flagella and pili. Bacteria also form biofilms by the process of self-assembly. The formation of aerial hyphae by bacteria and fungi is also directed by the controlled and ordered assembly of building blocks. Also, the formation of virus capsids is a classical process of molecular recognition and self-assembly at the nanoscale. Nanoscience does have an impact on several areas of microbiology. It allows for the study and visualization at the molecular-assembly levels of a process. It facilitates identification of molecular recognition and self-assembly motifs as well as the assessment of these processes.
Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is a powerful research tool that is being used to detect and analyze chemicals as well as a non-invasive tool for imaging cells and detecting cancer. It also has been employed for label-free sensing of bacteria, exploiting its tremendous enhancement in the Raman signal. SERS can provide the vibrational spectrum of the molecules on the cell wall of a single bacterium in a few seconds. Such a spectrum is like the fingerprints of the molecules and therefore could be exploited as a means to quickly identify bacteria without the need of a time-consuming bacteria culture process, which typically takes a few days to several weeks depending on the species of bacteria. To practically apply SERS to the early diagnosis of bacteremia - the presence of bacteria in the blood - researchers have managed to capture bacteria in a patient's blood onto the SERS substrate.
Graphene research papers are popping up left and right at what seems like an accelerating speed and growing volume. One of the areas that is seeing vast research interest is the biological interfacing of graphene for instance for sensor applications. Today, we are looking at another exciting graphene bio application where a graphene sensor is integrated with microfluidics to sense malaria-infected red blood cells at the single-cell level. Specific binding between ligands on positively charged knobs of infected red blood cells and receptors functionalized on graphene inside microfluidic channels induces a distinct conductance change. Conductance returns to baseline value when infected cell exits the graphene channel.