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Spaces Station Nanotechnology may help revolutionize medicine in the future with its promise to play a role in selective cancer therapy. City of Hope researchers hope to boost the brains own immune response against tumors by delivering cancer-fighting agents via nanotubes. A nanotube is about 50,000 times narrower than a human hair, but it length can extend up to several centimeters.
If nanotube technology can be effectively applied to brain tumors, it might also be used to treat stroke, trauma, neurodegenerative disorders and other disease processes in the brain, said Dr. Behnam Badie, City of Hopes director of neurosurgery and of its brain tumor program.
"Im very optimistic of how this nanotechnology will work out," he said. "We are hoping to begin testing in humans in about five years, and we have ideas about where to go next."
The Nano and Micro Systems Group at JPL, which has been researching nanotubes since about 2000, creates these tiny, cylindrical multi-walled carbon tubes for City of Hope.
City of Hope researchers, who began their quest in 2006, found good results: The nanotubes, which they used on mice, were non-toxic in brain cells, did not change cell reproduction and were capable of carrying DNA and siRNA, two types of molecules that encode genetic information.
JPLs Nano and Micro Systems Group grows the nanotubes on silicon strips a few square millimeters in area. The growth process forms them into hollow tubes as if by rolling sheets of graphite-like carbon.
Carbon nanotubes are extremely strong, flexible, heat-resistant, and have very sharp tips. Consequently, JPL uses nanotubes as field-emission cathodes vehicles that help produce electrons for various space applications such as x-ray and mass spectroscopy instruments, vacuum microelectronics and high-frequency communications.
"Nanotubes are important for miniaturizing spectroscopic instruments for space station applications, developing extreme environment electronics, as well as for remote sensing," said Harish Manohara, the technical group supervisor for JPLs Nano and Micro Systems Group.Read more...