BioNano Cancer Bombs

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed a drug delivery system consisting of nanoscale “cocoons” made of DNA that target cancer cells and trick the cells into absorbing the cocoon before unleashing anticancer drugs. The work was done by researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“This drug delivery system is DNA-based, which means it is biocompatible and less toxic to patients than systems that use synthetic materials,” says Dr. Zhen Gu, senior author of a paper on the work and an assistant professor in the joint biomedical engineering program at NC State and UNC Chapel Hill.

The nano-cocoon has ligands on its surface that bind to receptors on the surface of cancer cells. Image courtesy of Zhen Gu. Click to enlarge.

“This technique also specifically targets cancer cells, can carry a large drug load and releases the drugs very quickly once inside the cancer cell,” Gu says.  Link

Australian Research Council goes Bio-Nano with $26M/7 yrs

MEDIA RELEASE:  Australian Research Council (ARC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Professor Aidan Byrne, has today officially opened the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology at Monash University in Melbourne.

Professor Byrne opened the Centre on behalf of the Minister for Education, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, and said it would be the focus of bio-nano research activity in Australia.

“Nanomedicines are on the cusp of revolutionising diagnosis and therapy in many diseases; the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology comprises a multi-disciplinary team focused on understanding and controlling the interface of materials with biological systems.

“The expected outcomes through research at this Centre are better diagnostic and therapeutic tools that are designed via an enhanced understanding of the bio-nano interface.  rest

Rapid molecular testing is the future

WALTHAM, Mass., June 16, 2014 – Alere Inc. (NYSE: ALR), a leading global provider of point-of-care rapid diagnostic and health information solutions, today announced that it has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the Alere™ i Influenza A & B test, the first and only molecular test to detect and differentiate influenza A and B virus in less than 15 minutes.  …

Molecular testing involves the extraction and analysis of DNA or RNA strands to detect sequences associated with viral and bacterial causes of infections. Alere i Influenza A & B is the first molecular diagnostic test that delivers actionable, lab-accurate results in less than 15 minutes on a user-friendly platform. Unlike polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, Alere’s proprietary Molecular. In Minutes™ (MIM) isothermal nucleic acid amplification technology (iNAT) does not require lengthy and complex thermo cycling or DNA purification, and can therefore deliver PCR-caliber results more quickly – and in a broad range of settings. Alere i tests for Strep A, C. difficile, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and chlamydia / gonorrhea are currently in development.  The complete press release can be found here.

Of Mice and Men and HIV Toxin

An antibody and toxin mix has successfully detected and killed HIV-infected cells lurking in the organs and bone marrow of mice that were altered to have a human immune system.  The results, reported Thursday in the online journal PLOS Pathogens, offer conceptual proof that a reservoir of HIV-infected cells in organs can sought out and destroyed, a scenario that would potentially end the stalemate between the virus and antiretroviral drug therapies.,0,925613.story#ixzz2syfkX6YE

$105M for Genomic Medicine

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The New York Genome Center (NYGC) and the University of Buffalo (UB) have received $105 million in state funding to work together in pursuing genomic medicine advances and computational biomedical research, NYGC and UB said today.

The funding, which New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled in his “State of the State” remarks [January 9th], will provide $55 million to NYGC and $50 million to the University of Buffalo to create the NY Genomic Medicine Network.   Rest

Nanoparticles: a pill instead of an injection

A new advance in the use of nanoparticles to deliver medicine or other therapeutics orally is described in a short summary in a Wall Street Journal article or a longer, more detailed news release from MIT.  Not surprisingly Professor Robert Langer is an author on the paper appearing in the Nov. 27 online edition of Science Translational Medicine.  In a classic example of looking to nature to show the way, the researchers looked at previous work on how babies absorb antibodies from their mothers’ milk, and then built nanoparticles that are selectively passed through the intestinal barrier using protein coats that are recognized by receptor sites in the intestinal lining.

The research was funded by a Koch-Prostate Cancer Foundation Award in Nanotherapeutics; the National Cancer Institute Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence at MIT-Harvard; a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology Award; and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

Misfolding Polypeptides

A number of diseases—including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s—are associated with polypeptides that misfold and aggregate into fibrils that further clump together to form plaques. Researchers have now characterized the structure of an intermediate that leads to fibrils in the folding pathway of a polypeptide implicated in type 2 diabetes.

Disrupting formation of the intermediate structure may provide a new target for preventing or treating the disease, which is a growing public health problem. Type 2 diabetes is defined as an inability to produce enough of or respond properly to insulin. Consequently, glucose builds up in the bloodstream. Over time, the condition causes increasingly serious health problems.

The work to characterize the polypeptide intermediate was led by graduate student Lauren E. Buchanan and chemistry professor Martin T. Zanni of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  REST