Friday, January 8, 2016

Nanoengineers build microcannons that fire drug-filled nanobullets

What if you could fire tiny drug-filled bullets directly at a disease target, like a cancer tumor or a diseased organ in the body? That's the aim of a recent study led by nanoengineers at UC San Diego.

Ultrasound triggers microcannons to shoot nanobullets into a target. Image credit: Wang and Esener research groups at UC San Diego.

Their idea is this: use ultrasound to trigger microcannons to shoot nanobullets packed with drugs deep into diseased tissue, where drugs can be released. To demonstrate this concept, researchers built microcannons as five-micrometer-sized hollow cones made of reduced graphene oxide and gold. Researchers then loaded the cannons with a gel containing silica nanobullets and a perfluorocarbon propellant, which is "ignited" by ultrasound to shoot the bullets from the cannons to the target.

Nanoengineering professors Joseph Wang and Sadik Esener and their labs teamed up to develop this targeted drug delivery method. The researchers demonstrated that their microcannons could fire nanobullets deep into artificial tissue. They published their work in the journal ACS Nano.

See media coverage of this story in Gizmodo.

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