Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Health

Light-activated, Nano-sized Protein Factories Show Promise For Drug Delivery

80beatsBy Veronique GreenwoodAugust 13, 2012 11:41 PM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

particle.jpg

Some of the most exciting medical research these days involves light. Light therapy for cancer, in which a tumor-seeking dye becomes toxic as soon as a light is switched on, manages to avoid slaughtering nearby healthy cells

. Optogenetics

---using light to turn on or off the expression of neurons---has advanced researchers' understanding of neurological diseases. Now, a recent paper

 is a reminder that light might someday be used for exquisitely tailored drug delivery: in this paper, tiny packages bearing all the molecular machinery to build a protein are idle when injected into mice, but spring into action when exposed to UV light. The nanoparticles, which you can see a schematic of above, are little envelopes of cellular membrane, wrapped around a basic set of protein-building machinery and the gene for whatever you'd like manufactured---the researchers used a glowing fluorescent protein for their test. The gene can't be accessed by the machinery because it is sealed into a loop by a piece of molecular adhesive, but shine a UV light on it, and the adhesive unsticks. Then the machinery transcribes the gene, and the protein is expressed. The researchers found that when they injected the particles into mice and turned on the UV light, the injection site glowed. Though we're far from swapping drugs or medically helpful proteins into these remote-control nano-factories just yet, showing that they can function in a live animal is an exciting advance. [via The Scientist

]

Image courtesy of Schroeder et al / Nano Letters

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In