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Protein coat for nanowires could lower harmful medicine dosages

Scientists in Idaho and Korea reveal the development of a protein coating which could turn nanowires into a new drug delivery system, helping to target doses of medicines harmful to humans

Scientists in Idaho and Korea have revealed the development of a protein coating which could turn nanowires into a new drug delivery system, helping to target doses of medicines harmful to humans.

The study leaders at the University of Idaho, Gregory Bohach, David McIlroy and Carolyn Hovde, reported that nanowires and other nanomaterials (NM), which are 50,000 times smaller in diameter than a human hair, could be used penetrate tumours more easily.

The researchers reported that nanowires coated with the protein fibronectin penetrated cells more easily than uncoated nanowires. They added that the wires could also be coated with antibodies or other materials which home in on abnormal cells, while sparing normal cells.

In experiments with human and bovine cells, results showed that coated nanowires could enter and deliver a toxic agent called StxA1 which then killed the cells.

Professor Bohach said: "This indicates that nanowires can carry StxA1 and potentially other toxic or therapeutic agents into cells."

4th September 2007

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