Category : Editorial
The latest application of nano-technology is to understand the DNA damaging agents, by putting sensors right inside the cells As a bonus, this method can also be used to deliver the drugs inside the cells. This is a boon to detect the specific toxins which cause cancer.
Tying bells to sheep or cows to find out their presence in dense fog in the mountains is a well-known practice. To find a black cat in a dark room, instead of tying a bell, a small torch is still better. This is the radioactive tracer technique. What Dr. Michael Strano of MIT has been able to achieve is to detect the nano of nano particles, the DNA by putting fluorescent sensors right inside. Nano carbon molecules, thousands of times smaller than a human hair are now used by many research groups. Strano's team carefully coated specially shaped nano carbon tubes with DNA which damaging agents attack. DNA coating is a bait for the rogue molecules and the carbon molecule coated with DNA is also a sensor which gives radiation in the far-infrared region, because they are fluorescent. The characteristics of the infra-red spectrum will change when the sensors interact with DNA, inside the cells. Eventually, the cell eats off the protein. The nano-carbon core is not toxic and gets rejected.
In spectroscopy parts per million impurities are normally studied in samples. But to study the molecules inside the body is a great development of the technique. The sensor is right inside the sample.
The principle of this analysis is that even for the same molecule or atoms, the environment will change the characteristics of the spectrum, viz., the wavelength, intensity, the shape and the width of the lines. This is called Matrix Effect.
This is a problem in certain studies and can also be converted to a boon to study the environment of the molecule. The effect of very small doses of the medicine can also be studied by Strano's method. Once the technique is developed, many applications will follow. We congratulate Dr. Strano and his team and it will not be a surprise if this discovery wins the nobel prize in the near future.
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