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DNA nanomanagement engines

  1. Jan 25, 2005 #1
    I read this little article today, regarding self-building drug delivery systems. It reads a lot like how our immune system works. Then again, my degree in molecular biology is something for my next lifetime. This is from Scientific American.


    January 24, 2005

    DNA Helps Nanoparticles Pull Themselves Together

    A burgeoning area of nanotechnology research is the development of tiny drug delivery systems that can target diseased cells specifically, leaving healthy ones untouched. New results suggest a novel synthetic approach could cut the manufacturing time for one type of nanoscale delivery system in half.

    Scientists at the University of Michigan have been working with branched polymers just nanometers long called dendrimers, which can carry many different types of molecules attached to their ends. Armed with contrast agents and drugs, a dendrimer can then locate and signal the presence of diseased tissue. But building a multifaceted dendrimer complex is labor intensive and requires separate, lengthy reaction steps for each additional molecule. In the current issue of the journal Chemistry and Biology, Youngseon Choi and his colleagues describe a different technique, which exploits the natural tendencies of DNA to speed up the process. The team first made separate batches of dendrimers, each carrying a single type of molecule as well as a small swatch of noncoding DNA. When solutions of these dendrimers were combined, the lengths of DNA formed complementary pairs, knitting the two dendrimer complexes together.

    Using this approach, assembling a therapeutic dendrimer that could deliver five drugs to five different types of cells would require 10 steps. The traditional approach would require 25, each taking between two and three months. "With this approach, you can target a wide variety of molecules, drugs [and] contrast agents to almost any cell," comments study co-author James Baker of the University of Michigan. The results have proved the concept is feasible, the authors note, and could usher in a new age of self-assembling disease-fighters. --Sarah Graham

    I see some good things, but what I really see, is a lot of awful potential for this as a living weapon, or as something that gets out into the world, and becomes a form of pollution that results in all kinds of things. Say as a weapon, it is used to eat up structures ships, pipelines, people, etc.

    But as a good thing, I was telling a Dietetic Kitchen Manager once, that in the future, I see stuff like Chicken, as a vat grown item. Where germ cells, or mother cells,would form the inner wall of the vat, and with simple nutrients would grow, striated muscle tissue, out in a continuous fashion, and the "Chicken" would be harvested in large slices, and cubed. Depending on the nano technology, the "Chicken", might grow more shaped like a cut of meat. All the processes would be carried out by living nano things, including chemical output that would signal the need for more nutrient input.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 26, 2005 #2
    Hi Dayle,

    Thank you for sharing this brief article. I had worked with drug delivery systems using various techniques, such as electroploration, homing peptides, molecular modeling and genetic testing, etc. Someday, I firmly believe that the huge strides in nanotechnology will transpire to biotechnology and drug discovery systems.
    However, from my perspective, nanotech is still invasive, therefore high risk.
    Maybe, better nano-programming techniques and embedded artificial intelligence still has to be developed to mitigate those risks.

    Personally, I rather have my own body's immune system and cellular-regenerating capability enhanced (hopefully, it will be strong enough) to ward off destructive bacterias, viruses, and chemical agents.

    Oh well, just wishful thinking.

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