NIST to test the value of gold in drug-delivering nanoparticles

Nanoparticles appear to be worth much more than their weight in gold when it comes to drug-delivery and other medical applications, according to a release from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. So, to increase gold's value to nanotech research, NIST is proposing a kind of "test bed" to see how it behaves in biological systems and how to formulate it to do what you want it to do.

Gold, by itself, may look pretty but it really does not do anything biologically until you "functionalize" it by adding proteins, for example, to make it cluster around cancer cells, or coated to avoid clumping. And the composition and density of gold coatings makes a big difference in their safety and biocompatibility.

"Understanding these parameters through thorough characterization would enable the research community to design and develop better nanomaterials," Anil Patri, of the National Characterization Laboratory, said in a news release.

The trial they're going with involves gold nanoparticles encased in branching dendrons. This will help create a uniform, controllable core-shell nanoparticle that could be made-to-order with precise shape and size, NIST said in its release.

Next, in vitro biological tests are coming.

- read the report on AzoNano