In case you missed it (ICYMI), here are some of the stories that made headlines in the world of cleanrooms and nanotechnology in the past week:
Researchers from the University of Delaware have theorized that fuel cells (which convert the chemical energy of hydrogen to electricity) are a more promising alternative to fossil fuels than rechargeable batteries. Battery-powered cars are plagued by a short driving range and a long battery charging time — however, fuel cell cars can charge up in less than five minutes and can be driven over 300 miles. The researchers have made a breakthrough that may lower the cost of hydrogen fuel cells … they’ve replaced the pricey platinum catalysts with cheaper ones made from metals such as nickel.
The cancer drug paclitaxel just got more effective, thanks to researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The drug has been packaged in containers taken from a patient’s own immune system — this shields the drug from being destroyed by the body’s own defenses and brings the entire payload to the tumor. This research means that 50 times less of the drug can be used, with the same results. The work focuses on exosomes — miniscule spheres gathered from the white blood cells that protect the body against infection — made of the same material as cell membranes. The patient’s body won’t recognize them as foreign, which has been a huge challenge to the use of plastics-based nanoparticles as drug-delivery systems.
Finally, a Slinky copycat developed by the University of Michigan could provide cheaper, more precise monitoring for cancer survivors. The thin, stretchable film coils light waves like the famous toy and produces circularly polarized light, which could provide an early warning of cancer recurrence. The cancer detection process is able to spot telltale signs of the disease in blood. The film could help form a portable, smartphone-sized device to analyze blood samples in a doctor’s office or maybe even in the patient’s own home.