One of the most important areas of nanotech research and development is the area of nanoscale delivery systems for drugs and genetic material. Advances occur frequently. Here’s another one:
Theresa M. Reineke, associate professor of chemistry in the College of Science, and colleagues in her lab at Virginia Tech and at the University of Cincinnati have developed a new molecule that can travel into cells, deliver genetic cargo, and packs a beacon so scientists can follow its movements in living systems.
The scientists created novel polycations. A polycation is a polymer chain with positive charges, which is not too unusual. DNA itself is a polyanion, a polymer with negative charges. However, the Reineke Group’s supramolecule has options. It contains chemistry (oligoethyleneamines) that binds and compacts nucleic acids – pieces of the DNA – into nanoparticles. It also incorporates a group of rare-earth elements known as lanthanides. The repackaged DNA is protected from damage as it travels into the cells and the lanthanides allow visualization of the delivery into cells.
[Source: Eurekalert: Biology]