Printable ‘Bionic’ Ear Melds Electronics and Biology

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Scientists at Princeton University used off-the-shelf printing tools to create a functional ear that can “hear” radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human capability.

The researchers’ primary purpose was to explore an efficient and versatile means to merge electronics with tissue. The scientists used 3D printing of cells and nanoparticles Continue reading

Fewer Animal Experiments Thanks to Nanosensors

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Experiments on animals have been the subject of criticism for decades, but there is no prospect of a move away from them any time soon. The number of tests involving laboratory animals has in fact gone up. Now, researchers have found an alternative approach: they hope sensor nanoparticles will reduce the need for animal testing. Continue reading

Nanoparticles Damage Healthy Soil Bacteria

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Though some might argue that nanotechnology offers benefits not afforded by normal molecules, the environmental and human health consequences of this “breakthrough” technology appear dire, to say the least. New research published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials explains that nanoparticles damage beneficial soil bacteria and ultimately ruin plants’ ability to uptake necessary nitrogen.

Researchers Niraj Kumar and Virginia Walker from Queen’s University in Canada set out to investigate the effects of nanoparticles in the environment, comparing soil from the Arctic — which they believed would be the least contaminated with nanoparticles — to soil that was deliberately contaminated with various nanoparticles, including silver nanoparticles. Continue reading

Good Cholesterol Nanoparticles Seek and Destroy Cancer Cells

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High-density lipoprotein’s hauls excess cholesterol to the liver for disposal, but new research suggests “good cholesterol” can also act as a special delivery vehicle of destruction for cancer.

Synthetic HDL nanoparticles loaded with small interfering RNA to silence cancer-promoting genes selectively shrunk or destroyed ovarian cancer tumors in mice, a research team led by scientists from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the University of North Texas Health Science Center reports in the April edition of Neoplasia.

“RNA interference has great therapeutic potential but delivering it to cancer cells has been problematic,” said Anil Sood, M.D., the study’s senior author and MD Anderson’s director of Ovarian Cancer Research and co-director of the Center for RNA Interference and Non-Coding RNA at MD Anderson. “Combining siRNA with HDL provides an efficient way to get these molecules to their targets.  Continue reading

Nano Drug Delivery Helpful in Treating Erectile Dysfunction

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NEW YORK – An innovative drug delivery system comprising nanoparticles quickens response in erectile dysfunction (ED), says a new study.

“The response time…was… just a few minutes, which is basically what people want in an ED medication,” said study co-author Kelvin P. Davies.

“In both rats and humans, it can take 30 minutes to one hour for oral ED medications to take effect,” said Davies, associate professor of urology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Besides, “an estimated 30 to 50 percent of men with ED do not respond to oral use of (such) PDE5 inhibitors (class of drugs called phosphodiesterase type 5),” adds Davies.

The new system, after successful testing in rats, could potentially prevent side-effects associated with oral ED medications in humans.

The drug-delivery system, developed by Einstein College scientists, can carry tiny payloads of various drugs or other medically useful substances and release them in a controlled and sustained manner.

That could spell safer and more effective ED therapy for millions of men with heart disease and other health problems affecting erectile function.

Tens of millions of men worldwide have benefited from oral ED medications such as sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis).

However, these medications – which belong to PDE5 inhibitors – have limitations. They can cause systemic and serious side-effects.

They include headache, facial flushing, nasal congestion, upset stomach, abnormal vision as well as isolated reports of hearing and vision loss.

Men who have recently suffered a heart attack or stroke or have severe heart disease should use these drugs with caution or not at all.

This study was done to evaluate whether the nanoparticles, which have been shown to penetrate the skin, might allow the targeted delivery of compounds that treat ED and thereby avoid the drugs’ systemic effects.

“Most of the animals, nearly 90 percent, showed a response to treatment with the nanoparticles,” says co-author Joel M. Friedman, Einstein College professor of physiology, biophysics, medicine.

Friedman developed the nanoparticles with his son Adam Friedman, chief resident in the division of dermatology at the college.

Clinical studies on humans could begin in a few years if animal studies continue to show that the nanoparticle delivery system is safe and effective, says a college release.

The study was published in the online edition of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.