Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
ADME Tox
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

A Silk Coat for Diamonds Makes Sleek New Imaging and Drug Delivery Tool

Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Bookmark and Share
New kind of tiny glowing particle could provide a novel technique for biological imaging and drug delivery.

The new particles, just tens of nanometers across, are made of diamond and covered in silk. They can be injected into living cells, and because they glow when illuminated with certain kinds of light, biologists can use them to peer inside cells and untangle the molecular circuitry that governs cellular behavior, or to study how cells react to a new drug. The silk-coated diamond particles could also potentially be used someday in the clinic, by allowing doctors to send infection-fighting antibiotics to a targeted area of the body.

A team of researchers from Australia and the United States describes this new hybrid diamond-silk material in a paper published today in The Optical Society’s (OSA) journal Biomedical Optics Express.

Nanodiamonds similar to those in this study have been explored previously for their potential medical uses, but this is the first time silk has been incorporated with nanodiamonds, said Asma Khalid of the University of Melbourne, who is the first author of the Biomedical Optics Express paper. "This nanodiamond-silk hybrid material is important due to the potential it offers to the fields of bioimaging, biosensing and drug delivery," she explained.

Diamonds are crystals of carbon. But they can be made with defects—other atoms inserted in the crystal structure—and these defects allow them to do tricks that flawless diamonds can’t, such as absorbing and reemitting light of certain wavelengths, a process called fluorescence. Because these fluorescent nanodiamonds are bright, stable, and harmless to living tissue – and can work at room temperature – researchers have been exploring their use in biological imaging and sensing. But the edges around the particles tend to be rough and may cause  the nanodiamonds to become trapped inside cell membranes.

Previously, other researchers have addressed this problem by coating the particles with lipids, a class of molecules found in fats and waxes. According to the new study, however, a better solution is to cover the nanodiamonds in silk, which is transparent, flexible, compatible with biological tissue, and biodegradable, so it won't leave any harmful byproducts inside the body.

When the researchers tested their new hybrid material, they found that the silk remains transparent, meaning that it does not block the glow of the nanodiamonds. They also discovered that the silk not only preserves the optical properties of the nanodiamonds, but it enhances their brightness by two to four times. Finally, the new material appears to be safe for use in the body: it left no damaging effects even after spending two weeks implanted inside living tissue, suggesting that it is nontoxic and non-inflammatory, the researchers say.

In the future, the team envisions a range of nanodiamond-silk structures that could help researchers improve techniques for fighting infections in targeted areas of the body. A thin film of the new substance, carrying drugs, could be implanted directly into an infected area, minimizing the patient’s exposure to the drugs. Silk can also be designed to degrade at a certain rate, which would allow clinicians to control the release of medications.

In addition to the University of Melbourne, the researchers are affiliated with the University of Sydney and the Silk Lab at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

Paper: “Synthesis and Characterization of Biocompatible Nanodiamond-Silk Hybrid Material,” Khalid, A. et al., Biomedical Optics Express, Vol. 5, Issue 2, pp. 596-608 (2014).


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,200+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.


Scientific News
Keeping Tumor Growth at Bay
Engineers at Washington University in St. Louis found a way to keep a cancerous tumor from growing by using nanoparticles of the main ingredient in common antacid tablets.
Cancer Cells Kill Off Healthy Neighbours
Cancer cells create space to grow by killing off surrounding healthy cells, according to UK researchers working with fruit flies.
Future of Medicine Could be Found in a Tiny Crystal Ball
A Drexel University materials scientist has discovered a way to grow a crystal ball in a lab. Not the kind that soothsayers use to predict the future, but a microscopic version that could be used to encapsulate medication in a way that would allow it to deliver its curative payload more effectively inside the body.
Bile Acid Supports Production of Blood Stem Cells
A research group at Lund University has been able to show that bile acid is transferred from the mother to the foetus via the placenta to enable the foetus to produce blood stem cells.
Chemical Used to Replace BPA is Potentially Toxic
This study is the first to examine the effects of BPA and BPS on brain cells and genes that control the growth and function of organs involved in reproduction.
A Better Model for Parkinson's
Scientists at EPFL solve a longstanding problem with modeling Parkinson’s disease in animals. Using newfound insights, they improve both cell and animal models for the disease, which can propel research and drug development.
Improving Delivery of Poorly Soluble Drugs Using Nanoparticles
A technology that could forever change the delivery of drugs is undergoing evaluation by the Technology Evaluation Consortium™ (TEC). Developed by researchers at Northeastern University, the technology is capable of creating nanoparticle structures that could deliver drugs into the bloodstream orally – despite the fact that they are normally poorly soluble.
Toxicity Testing With Cultured Liver Cells
Microreactor replaces animal testing.
Neural Networks Adapt to the Presence of a Toxic HIV Protein
HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) afflict approximately half of HIV infected patients.
Faster Drug Discovery?
Startup develops more cost-effective test for assessing how cells respond to chemicals.
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,200+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!