Latest Entries

Russian nano project hits funding woes

Rus­sia was a late entrant to the nano horser­ace, but seemed to want to reduce its han­di­cap with an incred­ible budget and goals designed to make itself a major player in the field. How­ever, by 2011 the major­ity of the funds has not been made avail­able to research­ers and still sits in gov­ern­mental vaults, includ­ing the fund­ing for the now defunct Ekaterinburg’s tech­no­lo­gical centre.

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Who is investing in nanotechnology?

Earlier this month BBC Radio 4 inteviewed Jonathan Flint, the chief exec­ut­ive dir­ector of Oxford Instru­ments — a very suc­cess­ful UK based com­pany involved in the design and man­u­fac­ture of spe­cial­ized tools for research and industry — and, among other very inter­est­ing points about the pres­sures Brit­ish uni­ver­sit­ies are facing, Prof. Flint men­tioned that the mar­ket for the company’s products was almost exclus­ively out­side the UK. While his account rein­forced the feel­ing that, when it comes to pro­mot­ing innov­a­tion, the nan­o­tech­no­logy strategy in the UK is as use­ful as a pen with no ink, it raised the ques­tion — who is invest­ing in nanotechnology?

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Gold nanoparticles may be able to treat MRSA

Methicillin-resistant Sta­phyl­o­coc­cus aureus (MRSA) is a multi-drug res­ist­ant bac­teria that has become a pub­lic health night­mare. Infec­tions in hos­pit­als have become com­mon­place (the num­ber of MRSA infec­tions in intens­ive care units has increased over 30 fold in just three dec­ades) and the bac­teria is no longer lim­ited to med­ical facil­it­ies, des­pite the adop­tion of pre­vent­ive meas­ures, hav­ing been found in unre­lated places like pris­ons or locker rooms.

Why is the spread of MRSA such a ser­i­ous problem?

Of course, the pro­lif­er­a­tion of a poten­tially harm­ful bac­teria is always cause for con­cern. Sta­phyl­o­coc­cus aureus infec­tions are inof­fens­ive as long as the lesions are restric­ted to the skin or mucosal lin­ing, but quickly become dan­ger­ous —  fatal, if left untreated — when they reach the blood­stream. Treat­ment with anti­bi­ot­ics greatly improves the pro­gnosis, but not in the case of MRSA, which is res­ist­ant to the com­monly used and most effect­ive ones. Other drugs avail­able now seem to have very lim­ited effect, but a recently paper pub­lished in the journal Small sug­gests there might be a pre­vi­ously unex­plored altern­at­ive — gold nanoparticles.

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Should we label nano-enabled products?

Related to the safety issue of nan­o­tech­no­logy (like the safety of sil­ver con­cerns covered earlier) is the issue of labelling. Coin­cid­ent­ally, Dr. Guil­laume Gruère pub­lished a very inter­est­ing opin­ion piece on April’s edi­tion of Nano Today. Dr. Gruère is of the opin­ion that blanket labelling is, at this point, both imprac­tical and ill advised.

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Novel heat cancer therapy gets closer to reality

In local Flor­ida (US) news, NBC repor­ted some very inter­est­ing news about the Kan­zius can­cer treat­ment (one vari­ation of using heat as a can­cer treat­ment). The innov­at­ive method is com­plet­ing another mile­stone before the clin­ical tri­als stage can be reached, with the com­pany hav­ing star­ted a series of tests on rab­bits early last week.

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Safety concerns of silver nanopaticles

Sil­ver nan­o­particles are likely to be the most wide­spread type of nan­o­particles in con­sumer products. Their use has been increas­ing and we can find them in everything from cos­met­ics to clothes or to home appli­ances. I look at a proud “this product uses sil­ver nan­o­particles” sticker every time I open the refri­ger­ator. In this and many other cases, the use of sil­ver is motiv­ated by its anti-microbial effect, which makes it ideal to use in products where hygiene is para­mount.

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Reseachers treat acne with nanoparticles

The industry of pre­ven­tion and treat­ment of acne is very prof­it­able and thriv­ing, but many of the com­mer­cial products have no real effect and the ones that do are often plagued by dif­fer­ent degrees of effect­ive­ness in dif­fer­ent indi­vidu­als. In this con­text, research for bet­ter and safe pre­ven­tion and treat­ment of acne con­tin­ues. Recently, a Japan­ese research team led by Dr. Satoshi Itami [1] repor­ted inter­est­ing res­ults using an unlikely can­did­ate – fullerene.

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Carbon nanotubes in your TV and solar panels?

If you just bought a TV, it might very well be the last one you own without car­bon nan­otubes. In fact, it is likely you will find them not only in your TV, but also your com­puter mon­itor, your Kindle or on the touch­screen of your iPod and iPad. But there’s even more — they are even likely to find their way to solar pan­els. OK, so why would you want car­bon nan­otubes in all these products? Read on.

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Is it safe to use nanoparticles in sunscreen?

For over a dec­ade, there has been con­cern over whether the use of nan­o­particles in sun­screen is safe. Early signs poin­ted to poten­tial toxic effects, but as research advances the two nan­o­particles com­monly used for these pur­poses (TiO2 and ZnO) appear safer and safer. In an attempt to put the issue to rest, the Nan­o­der­ma­to­logy Soci­ety issued a press release (.pdf doc­u­ment) earlier this month with a clear mes­sage: yes, these nan­o­particles are safe to used in sun­screen. So, if that’s the case, why did sci­ent­ists have it wrong in the begin­ning? Well, the truth is they didn’t, but instead they were ana­lys­ing dif­fer­ent things.

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Nanofiber spheres help wounds heal better

Our bod­ies have a remark­able abil­ity to heal them­selves. In most cases the dam­ages can be flaw­lessly repaired, although some tis­sues are prob­lem­atic, espe­cially if the wounds have an irreg­u­lar shape or are too extens­ive. This is a prob­lem often found when heal­ing car­til­age, which is a slow and pain­ful pro­cess. How­ever, a study led by Dr. Peter Ma and recently pub­lished in Nature Mater­i­als addresses that obstacle.

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