Pop goes the nanotube for targeted drug delivery

In another one of those "strange properties" you hear about when things go nanosized, if you squeeze water inside a tiny tube--like a carbon nanotube--it takes warmer temperatures to get those crammed-in water molecules to start moving. Therefore it stays frozen even beyond temperatures above the freezing mark. That means the boiling point is higher, too. But when that point is reached, the pressure from steam goes faster than it would in a larger container until...pop goes the nanotube. This strange brew, researchers say, provides an excellent opportunity for some drugs to placed inside that tube so that when it pops, out goes some meds at the precise location it's needed.

New Scientist tells us about this research at the University of Rochester appearing in the journal ACS Nano. Oleg Prezhdo and Vitaly Chaban. They did not actually percolate any water inside a nanotube, but they did the next best thing: They ran a computer simulation, and it all seemed to work well. The cork-popping event, they say, can be triggered by infrared lasers when the tubes reach the desired point, like a tumor, and in a way that doesn't harm surrounding healthy tissue.

A great deal of work still needs to be done on toxicity of nanotubes before the FDA would allow them to wander free in vivo, so this and other nanotube/drug delivery methods are going to need to remain computer simulations for at least a little while.

- read the item in New Scientist
- and the abstract in ACS Nano