Future Nanotechnology: Gold Nano-particles can be used as remote control of the brain
(Claus Lunau/Science Photo Library/Corbis)

Latest news in Nanotechnology is use of Gold as medicine and further as a remote control of brain.

Of late Gold Nano-particles have made their way in the medical treatments. A new treatment involves injecting ultra-tiny, gold wrapped spheres in the cancer patients. These nano-particles are smaller in size as compared to red blood cell hence they start accumulating in the tumor because they slip out of the bloodstream through minute holes which develop in the rapidly growing vessels of the tumor. Once the tumor is adequately filled with the gold nano-particles oncologist starts blasting it with near infrared light. The gold spheres absorb certain wavelengths of infrared light, a property that is used against the cancer cells. And these nano-particles convert the light into heat within the tumor which then destroys the cancer cells because temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit due to which the cancer cells deform and disintegrate. Another treatment which uses the gold nano-particles is the injection of gold bits into the male testicles and then exposing them to laser rays. At a certain temperature this would kill the sperms and provide temporary contraceptive effect. In case the heat is increased beyond a point it may also lead to permanent sterilization of the male. Since it is temporary this method is a reversible contraceptive and is really useful because it does not disturb the hormones.

In future the gold nano-particles may be used to remotely activate brain cells and help to treat the neurological diseases. As per a report from The Guardian, Mo Costandi has given details of two proposed treatments which involves the use of  gold nano-particles to transform the nerve cells. In one of the treatments a group of researchers at the University of Chicago, used gold nano rods which was attached to precise molecule which was embedded in the nerve cell membranes then infrared light was made to pass through these nano rods which warmed up the rods thus resulting in neurons to fire. The experiment was led by Francisco Benzanilla, by using dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. DRG neurons cluster in the spinal cord and are the ones which broadcast the information of pain and touch.

The second experiment was held at MIT wherein nano sized iron oxide spheres were used which heat up when a magnetic field passes over them. Here mice were used whose neurons were prepared to be heat sensitive, usually the brain cells do not need specific treatment to sense the heat however in these engineered mice a virus was injected which carried the gene that is needed to prepare the heat sensitivity in the brain, now the neurons incorporate the gene in their genome and prepare the sensor. These engineered mice were injected with the nano iron spheres and magnetic field passed over them results in warming of the nano spheres which in turn is sensed by the heat sensitive neurons in the mice and then these fire.

These experiments are sort of remote brain control however researchers are working towards more innovative ways of using the nanotechnology into medicine in the near future. Benzilla’s group has plans to develop a modified method treat the macular degeneration using nano particle. Further Costandi also mentions that may be in future a person just needs to swallow a pill to release the “nanobots” into their bloodstream which would detect the exact disease in that body and give the correct report.

So nanotechnology truly seems to be the answer to cure most of the deadly diseases like cancer.

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