A number of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer Disease, may potentially be treated by gene therapy, i.e. the delivery of therapeutic genes to neurons. Currently, the most common carrier molecules to deliver the therapeutic gene to the patient's target cells are viruses that have been genetically altered to carry normal human DNA. Overall gene delivery efficiency is typically low for nonviral vectors. New research undertaken at The Johns Hopkins University offers a systematic approach to understanding the gene delivery process in neurons and explores the intracellular barriers to nonviral gene delivery and possible ways to improve their effectiveness.
Researchers have developed a highly sensitive, optical bio-molecule sensor that can distinguish between bio-molecules based on the variation to the light intensity of light due to the change in the path of coupled input light. The variation to the coupled light intensity and path is dependant on the nature of the bio-molecule and the density of the bio-molecules.
Individual quantum dots (QDs) have been widely investigated for the past 15 years, showing their potential applications in quantum computing. However, individual QDs are not enough for practical applications, but preparing and characterizing groups of QDs with controllable crosstalk (quantum dot molecule) is very challenging still. University of Arkansas researchers discovered a simply way to fabricate QD pairs, the most simple QD molecule. This provides a unique opportunity to study carrier interaction among QDs, one step further towards quantum computing.
Encapsulating metal nanoparticles inside carbon shells is of considerable significance but fraught with high manufacturing cost due to high energy consumption and intensive use of hardware. This cost issue limits their practical applications. Researchers in China have developed a novel, simple, efficient, and economical synthesis technique for the fabrication of carbon-encapsulated nanostructures where the carbonization is conducted at a relatively low temperature of 160C in water and no toxic reagents are added. This new technique is facile and versatile, and suitable for the coating of other transition metal with carbon.
A new study by Swedish researchers shows that gold nano spheres with a diameter of 7 nm, produced in a conventional laboratory surrounding, activate human antigen presenting dendritic cells (DCs) to induce proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), mixed with either allergenic or autologous DCs. This effect was found to be due to endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS) contamination of the nanoparticles. When particles were produced in a controlled way eliminating endotoxin contamination, the activation of the DCs did not take place.
With the recent development in nanoscience and nanotechnology, a large variety of single-component nanomaterials (such as carbon nanotubes, nanoparticles, and quantum dots) and devices have been reported. There is now a pressing need to integrate multicomponent nanoscale entities into multifunctional systems and to connect these nano-systems to the micro/macro-world. This connection from the nano world to the macro world has been one of the long-standing problems in nanotechnology and still remains a big challenge. A novel approach of growing aligned carbon nanotubes (CNTs) around microsized carbon fibers should provide a useful platform technology for the development of various multidimensional and multifunctional nanomaterials and devices.
Organic thin film transistors (OTFTs) based on have attracted a great deal of attention as they are the critical components to fabricate low cost and large area flexible displays and sensors for future application in organic electronics technology. However, the major problem to use organic thin film transistor in logic circuits is the high operating voltage required. Researchers in India believe this problem can be solved by using organic materials with high dielectric constant as gate dielectrics.
A new study presents a viable strategy to stabilize enzymes under conditions found in real world biocatalytic applications. This stabilization of proteins through gold nanoparticles occurs through two mechanisms: 1) binding of the protein in its active structure stabilizes that structure; 2) the gold particles lower the interfacial energy between air and water, thus diminishing the driving force for denaturation. The result is a functional biocatalyst that can be readily applied to biotechnological applications.