Several research projects are working on reinventing the contact lens as a smart electronic device that, for instance, works as a self-powered biosensor for various point-of-care monitoring and wireless biomedical sensing. n addition to sensors, researchers are devising numerous applications for smart contact lenses, ranging from drug delivery systems to protection from electromagnetic wave damage. An application closer to contact lenses' original function, graphene can change the focal length of a polymeric soft contact lens in order to adjust near- and farsightedness.
Growing neurons outside the brain but with predictable synaptic connectivity between other neurons could provide for an efficient platform for fundamental research and design of neuroprosthetics. Various neuromorphic engineering research efforts are underway to do this. A team now has built a Brain-on-a-chip where they demonstrated guided growth of neurons on semiconductor nanowire scaffolds. Providing an environment were scientists could study a less complex neuronal circuit as opposed to a fully functioning circuit in a living mammalian brain will open up a new experimental paradigm of understanding how the neurons are influenced by the mechanical properties of the brain as they grow and form circuits.
Immunotherapy has become an important part of treating some types of cancer. It uses certain parts of a person's immune system to fight the cancer. Usually this is done by administering immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins. In recent years, nanotechnology has played an increasingly important role in pursuing efficient vaccine delivery in cancer immunotherapy. This article discusses vaccine delivery by synthetic nanoparticles or naturally derived nanoparticles for cancer immunotherapy.
Researchers show how spermatozoa can be useful parts of microdevices: As biocompatible propulsion source, but also entailing other functionalities such as their natural destiny for fertilization, their ability to respond to stimuli, or their ability to take up drugs open up fascinating new applications. They demonstrate first examples of using sperm cells as robotic components. The so-called spermbots are also systems that enable biophysical studies, e.g. of sperm motion in confinement.
Molecular magnets or single molecule-based magnets are usually anti-ferromagnetic (non-magnetic) at room temperature, which so far has limited their use to laboratory environments. As the first successful molecular magnet in a real-world application, an interdisciplinary research group has reported a new 'exotic' molecular magnet compound - iron salen nanoparticles - which shows intrinsic magnetic nature at room temperature as well as anticancer properties.
Recently, great progress has been made in the development of bio-hybrid devices with enhanced biological, mechanical and electrical designs. Several muscular tissue based actuators have been described and devices with cultured heart cells have also been reported to produce electrical outputs.
Now, researchers have demonstrated a novel bio-hybrid system, the 'Cell Generator'. The researchers integrated piezoelectric material with 3D-engineered living constructs for energy harvesting and electricity generation.
Researchers have demonstrated that nitric-oxide releasing nanoparticles interfere with Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) adhesion and prevent biofilm formation on a rat central venous catheters model of infection. Specifically, they demonstrated that a well studied nitric oxide-releasing nanoparticle platform (NO-np) has the potential to reduce the incidence and/or treat central venous catheter infections. The investigators examined the formation of staphylococcal biofilms by confocal and scanning electron microscopy and found that treatment of staphylococcal biofilms with NO-np significantly reduced biofilm thickness and bacterial number compared to control biofilms.
Researchers have, for the first time, used naturally occurring bacterial magnetic nanoparticles (BMPs) - magnetosome extracted from magnetotactic bacteria - to substitute man-made nanoparticles for photothermal cancer therapy. Compared with engineered magnetic nanoparticles, BMPs have specific features such as large-scale production, monodispersity, good biocompatibility, high crystallinity, and close-to-bulk magnetization besides being covered with a lipid bilayer. This layer of biomembrane is particularly useful as it removes the need for a postsynthetic surface modification step for escaping destruction by the body's immune system.