Self-propelled, spinning 'nano-necklaces' could pinpoint drug delivery

Indian researchers have created strings of nanoparticles--called nano-necklaces--that can be programmed to deliver drugs to very specific targets in the body via chemical propulsion.

The team published their design in the journal Scientific Reports, showing their structure that collects 100 nanorods strung together in a straight line 0.03 mm long. The structure displayed oscillatory and rotational movements in computer models, mimicking the tails of sperm cells or the flagella of bacteria, team member P.B. Sunil Kumar described, which helped propel it forward. This propulsion could help deliver drugs contained in the individual nanorods with pinpoint accuracy, according to a report in The Telegraph out of Calcutta.

"We've produced the engineering equivalent of pistons to convert straight-line motion into oscillatory motion," researcher Ronojoy Adhikari told The Telegraph. "We believe the ease of fabrication of such beads and the simplicity of the necklace-like structure should make this an attractive design strategy."

Because self-propelled delivery structures need fuel to stay in motion, scientists have sought out more efficient mechanisms. These nano-necklaces provide that flexibility due to their simplified motion, giving the ability to use fuels such as glucose or oxygen, which are safer but not as powerful as toxic ones like hydrogen peroxide, the researchers noted.

Now, the scientists are looking for ways to organize the direction these chains travel once they set about delivering their payload. One idea, Adhikari mentioned, is to use magnetic material and an MRI to guide them as they move forward.

- here's the Telegraph report
- read the research article