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January 7, 2008 -- They
may never pose a challenge to Olympic superstar Michael Phelps, but the
“microswimmers” developed by researchers in Spain and the United
Kingdom could break a long-standing barrier to
improving delivery of medications for cancer and other diseases. They describe
the development of tiny, magnetically controlled particles, called
“microswimmers,” that doctors could use to precisely deliver medicine to
diseased tissue. Their report appears in the December 25, 2008 issue of The
Journal of Physical Chemistry B,
a weekly ACS publication.
the new study, Pietro Tierno and colleagues note that scientists tried for years
to develop tiny engines that can move micro and nanomachines through tight
spaces, such as blood vessels and lab-on-a chip devices. But existing engines
are slow, difficult to maneuver, and must undergo alterations in their shape,
chemistry or temperature in order to work. The design of simple, more practical
engines to power these tiny, robotic machines remains a major challenge, the
scientists describe a solution — tiny beads, about 1/25,000 of an inch in
diameter, made of plastic and magnetic materials. When exposed to a magnetic
field, the particles spun like a gyroscope and could be easily directed to move
though narrow channels of liquids inside a glass plate, the researchers say. The
scientists could control the speed of the “microswimmers” by varying the
strength of the magnetic field.
This news release was provided by The American Chemical Society — a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress
and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through
its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences.
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