Foresight Nanotech Institute Logo
Image of nano


Foresight Update 48

page 3

A publication of the Foresight Institute


Foresight Update 48 - Table of Contents | Page1 | Page2 | Page3 | Page4 | Page5

 

Institute for Molecular Manufacturing Report

The portion of Update 48 that constitutes the IMM Report is on the IMM Web site: http://www.imm.org/.

"Recent Progress: Steps Toward Nanotechnology" by Jim Lewis


IMM would appreciate learning your thoughts on the above article.

Was this information of use to you?  

Your Name (optional):
Your Email Address (optional):

Any other comments?

"Nanomedicine: The Vasculoid Personal Appliance" by Robert A. Freitas Jr.


IMM would appreciate learning your thoughts on the above article.

Was this information of use to you?  

Your Name (optional):
Your Email Address (optional):

Any other comments?


Foresight Update 48 - Table of Contents

 

Natural Nanomachine Systems

Purdue researchers reveal structure of T4 Virus DNA injection system

Schematic of T4 Virus
larger image 68,065 bytes

According to a lengthy press release (30 January 2002), scientists at Purdue University have solved the three-dimensional structure of the bacteriophage T4 virus, which includes a complex syringe-like structure designed to inject viral DNA into a host cell. The researchers reported their work on this natural nano-mechanical device in the 31 January 2002 issue of Nature.

The T4 virus consists of an elongated head, which carries the virus' genetic material, and a tail made up of a hexagonal baseplate and six leg-type structures, called long-tail and short-tail fibers.

In the study, the Purdue group analyzed atom-by-atom the structure of the virus' baseplate. The baseplate is the key component of the virus, Rossmann says, serving as a "nerve center" and sending signals to and from the virus' head and tail fibers. While transmitting its messages, the baseplate also prepares the virus machinery to eject its DNA into the host cell.

"A whole series of events are required to recognize, attach and confirm the attachment, and then contract so that the viral DNA can be ejected into the host," said Michael Rossmann, Hanley Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences at Purdue who directed the study. "It's a very complicated system for infecting a cell."

The study also reveals how the virus binds to the surface of the host (an E. coli cell), punctures the cell wall with a syringe-like tube and injects its own genetic blueprint into the cell. The virus uses its long-tail fibers to recognize its host and to send a signal back to the baseplate. Once the signal is received, the short-tail fibers help anchor the baseplate into the cell surface receptors. As the virus sinks down onto the surface, the baseplate undergoes a change — shifting from a hexagon to a star-shaped structure. At this time, the whole tail structure shrinks and widens, bringing the internal pin-like tube in contact with the outer membrane of the E. coli cell. As the tail tube punctures the outer and inner membranes of the cell, the virus' DNA is injected through the tail tube into the host cell. This genetic information then sets the cell's machinery to work creating replicas of the virus.

Analysis of the cell-puncturing device also reveals a structure that may hold potential for applications in nanotechnology, such as microscopic probes, said Rossmann. "This a very stable structure that looks like a small stylus. It might be useful as a probe in an atomic force microscope, which employs a probe of molecular dimension."

Additional information on this research, including links to high-resolution images of the T4 virus and the viral baseplate mechanism, is available on the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) website at http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/02/pr0207.htm.



Foresight would appreciate learning your thoughts on the above article.

Was this information of use to you?  

Your Name (optional):
Your Email Address (optional):

Any other comments?


Foresight Update 48 - Table of Contents

 

Nanomedicine Briefs

Nanorobots in the bloodstream

An article by Robert A. Freitas Jr. ("Nanomedicine: robots in the bloodstream") appeared in the October-December 2001 issue of Pathways, a quarterly journal published by Novartis, a major pharmaceutical company. In his article, Freitas, the author of Nanomedicine, reports on recent work on artificial biological nanomotors, nanotweezers, and dendrimers, and features descriptions and illustrations of respirocytes, clottocytes and microbivores, which are medical nanorobot concepts proposed by Freitas. He writes: "In just a few decades physicians could be sending tiny machines into our bodies to diagnose and cure disease. These nanodevices will be able to repair tissues, clean blood vessels and airways, transform our physiological capabilities, and even potentially counteract the aging process."

Freitas concludes: "Although nanotechnology is in its infancy, researchers are steadily making major breakthroughs. If we can learn to harness and precisely control the ability to manipulate molecules, then many aspects of our lives will change forever. In particular, the ability to carry out medical procedures at the molecular level will revolutionize medical practice. The next few decades will be very interesting indeed."

Novartis Pathways has a circulation of 20,000 and is sent to health care professionals in 53 countries around the world, so publication of the article represents a small but significant step into the mainstream for the concept of nanorobotic medicine.

Other nanomedicine items

  • An article in Dallas-Ft. Worth Tech Biz ("Local medical device industry could boom with right political support", by Pavan Lall, 21 January 2002) describes innovative companies in the medical device industry in Texas. The article includes a brief nod toward the potential medical applications of nanotechnology, and quotes Jim Von Ehr of Zyvex Corp.
  • A news items from Science@NASA ("Voyage of the Nano-Surgeons", by Patrick L. Barry, 15 January 2002) describes work at the NASA Ames Research Center to develop "nanoparticles" and "nanocapsules" that will hunt down diseased cells and penetrate their membranes to deliver precise doses of medicines. The hope is that the tiny capsules may someday be injected into people's bloodstreams to treat conditions ranging from cancer to radiation damage. The research is being sponsored by NASA and the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Foresight would appreciate learning your thoughts on the above article.

Was this information of use to you?  

Your Name (optional):
Your Email Address (optional):

Any other comments?


Foresight Update 48 - Table of Contents

 

Lieberman to introduce nanotech bill in Senate

According to an article on the Small Times website ("Lieberman working on U.S. Senate bill that would ensure nanotech funding", by Doug Brown, 26 December 2001), Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman is working with several U.S. senators to craft the nation's first broad nanotechnology bill, which will probably be introduced in February or March. The article cites an unnamed senior aide to Sen. Lieberman as its source. Other senators involved in drafting the bill were not named.

According to the article, an aide to Lieberman said the Senator is pushing a bill to ensure that nanotechnology receives as much money and overall federal support as it needs and will likely call for some changes in the way nanotechnology gets federal funding. Federal investments in nanotechnology education and infrastructure, too, will be addressed in the bill. The bill is also intended to ensure that the federal government is aware of precisely what types of nanotechnology research other countries are conducting and how much they are spending. Finally, the bill will also address potential societal and ethical implications of nanotechnology.


Foresight would appreciate learning your thoughts on the above article.

Was this information of use to you?  

Your Name (optional):
Your Email Address (optional):

Any other comments?


Foresight Update 48 - Table of Contents

 

NIST emphasizes biomolecular probes, molectronics

An article on the Small Times website ("U.S. government to push nanopores, molecular electronics in next decade", by D. Brown, 13 December 2001) describes two areas of nanotechnology research that will be emphasized by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in its programs.

The Single Molecule Manipulation and Measurement program, launched in late October 2001, will develop new measurement methods using nanopores to probe the structure, function and dynamics of single biomolecules such as DNA and RNA.

The other effort is a new competence-building project in molecular electronics, which uses molecules to perform the function of electronic components. The science is rapidly developing, but it is largely without standards and measurements. The program project will focus on small-ensemble conduction experiments, test structure assessment, electronic structure characterization and conduction modeling in the near term. It will work with several noted university researchers at Yale University, Penn State University, Rice University, the Hewlett-Packard Research Labs, and the Naval Research Laboratory.


Foresight would appreciate learning your thoughts on the above article.

Was this information of use to you?  

Your Name (optional):
Your Email Address (optional):

Any other comments?


Foresight Update 48 - Table of Contents

 

U.S. Regional Nanotechnology Programs

outline of California

Krebs departs as director of CNSI for top UCLA post

A brief item on the Small Times website ("Krebs leaves nano institute, remains at UCLA", by Jayne Fried, 25 January 2002) reports that Martha Krebs has left her position as director of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) for a broader role at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), one of the UC campuses that hosts the CNSI. Krebs also has served as associate vice chancellor of UCLA for research, and said she will be devote herself full time to that job. Krebs was a key figure in establishing CNSI, and had moved to California a year ago from Washington, D.C., to become director of the institute. Previously, as science director at the U.S. Department of Energy, Krebs helped establish the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative.

According to the report, Jim Health, formerly co-scientific director of CNSI, is now acting director of the institute; he will work with Evelyn Hu, the other co-scientific director prior to change. Heath told Small Times that CNSI will be seeking a chief operating officer, — "probably more of a business or entrepreneurial type than a scientist", Heath said — to assist in running the institute.

outline of Colorado

NanoBusiness Alliance targets Colorado for hub

The NanoBusiness Alliance (NBA) has picked Denver as one of three cities to start its nationwide push to expand. According to reports, the NBA will work to establish more than 20 regional offices during 2002 to spur growth in the technology, with its first regional "hubs" to be set up in Washington, D.C. and Denver. For details, see article.

outline of Texas

Nanotech activity in Texas

An article (free registration required) in the Houston Business Journal (30 November 2001) notes the announced move of the Toronto-based firm of C Sixty to Houston, in part lured by $4 million in venture funding for its efforts to develop applications for fullernes (buckyballs). The article also notes other recent events such as the $10.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to create a Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology at Rice University, and development of Houston-based firms Carbon Nanotechnologies (the venture by Richard Smalley and partners to commercialize carbon nanotubes) and Molecular Electronics Corp., co-founded by molectronics pioneers Jim Tour, Mark Reed, and their partners. The article quotes James Calaway, a C Sixty board member, and president and CEO of Center for Houston's Future: "We're developing a sophisticated group of early-stage nano investors," Calaway says. "Houston is really becoming a hotbed for this area . . . "We're building a nano-cluster here. That's the most important thing. We're building the commercial aspects early enough that we can become a leading nano-cluster in the world."

outline of Michigan

Columnist claims Michigan is potential nanotech leader

An article in the Detroit Free Press ("Michigan nanotech companies may hit it big by thinking small", by Heather Newman, 28 February 2002) sounds a boosterish note for the potential for Michigan to become a leader in nanotechnology. Apparently Newman has missed the noise and thunder of the past year's stampede to set up nanoscience research and development programs, because she claims that "[Michigan] is rapidly becoming one of a handful [of states] in the country with a group of scientists working seriously on nanotechnology, the art of building everything from chemicals to machinery molecules, or even atoms, at a time." However, the article does provide a useful, if cursory, survey of nanotech activity in the state.

outline of Virginia

VA Tech scientist receive NSF grants for nanotech research

According to a press release (20 December 2001), two Virginia Tech research projects — to develop new sensors for detecting pathogens and DNA, and to improve molecular devices in electronic applications — received Nanoscale Exploratory Research (NER) grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Research by Massimiliano Di Ventra of Virginia Tech's Department of Physics and a joint effort of Randy Heflin of physics and Kevin Van Cott of chemical engineering is exploring the nanoscale world through computer simulations and a combination of optics, thin-film technology, and analytical biochemistry.

outline of Florida

Florida ponders funding for major nanotech program

Florida Governor Jeb Bush has proposed spending $100 million in 2002 on a technology initiative to create Centers of Excellence at Florida universities, according to a number of recent press reports. The program would include nanoscale science and technology as a major component.

If passed, the Florida program, which resembles programs already in place in California, New York, and Texas, would be one of the largest government-funded nanotechnology programs in the United States, trailing only California's program.

According to an article in the Gainesville Sun ("UF scientists will make a bid for 'bio-nanotechnology' funds", by Carrie Millier, 21 February 2002), the University of Florida (UF) offered a proposal for a program in "bio-nanotechnology" that involves faculty working in medicine, genetics, engineering, neuroscience, physics, chemistry. The focus on biology and medicine would capitalize on the strengths in the UF College of Medicine and the Brain Institute, said Neil Sullivan, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "We are focusing on an area where UF can be unique and different and really soar ahead," Sullivan said.

A second article in the Tampa Bay Tribune ("Nanotech No Small Challenge For State", by David Wasson, 24 February 2002) provides more extensive coverage, noting that Gov. Bush is "pushing a reluctant state Legislature to find $100 million in a lean budget year for an initiative he says could catapult Florida to the frontier of emerging nanotechnology. . . If lawmakers deliver, universities will compete for the state money to build advanced research centers and bring the world's leading scientists to Florida. Private-sector funding will follow, Bush suggests, as will companies setting up shop to take advantage of the research." Bush may have difficulty getting the initiative through the Florida legislature, which is debating a lean state budget and potential cutbacks on basic government services.


Foresight would appreciate learning your thoughts on the above article.

Was this information of use to you?  

Your Name (optional):
Your Email Address (optional):

Any other comments?


Foresight Update 48 - Table of Contents | Page1 | Page2 | Page3 | Page4 | Page5


From Foresight Update 48, originally published 31 March 2002.



Donate Now

 

Foresight Programs

Join Now

 

Home About Foresight Blog News & Events Roadmap About Nanotechnology Resources Facebook Contact Privacy Policy

Foresight materials on the Web are ©1986–2014 Foresight Institute. All rights reserved. Legal Notices.

Web site development by Netconcepts. Email marketing by gravityMail. Maintained by James B. Lewis Enterprises.