Tiny particles called quantum dots reduce symptoms in mice primed to develop a type of Parkinson’s disease, and also block formation of the toxic protein clumps in Alzheimer’s. They could one day be a novel treatment for these brain disorders, although tests in people are some years away.
Quantum dots are just a few nanometres in size – so small they become subject to some of the strange effects of quantum physics. They have useful electronic and fluorescent properties and are found in some TV screens and LED lights.
Unlike most medicines, their tiny size means they can pass from bloodstream into the brain. Byung Hee Hong of Seoul National University in the South Korea and his colleagues wondered if they would affect the molecules involved in Parkinson’s or other brain disorders.
Parkinson’s disease involves gradually worsening tremors and movement problems. It is thought to be caused by a protein called synuclein found in nerve cells folding into the wrong shape, which triggers a chain reaction of misfolding in nearby synuclein molecules. This leads to a build-up of long strands or “fibrils” of the protein, killing neurons.
Hong’s team found that in a dish, quantum dots made from graphene – a form of carbon – bind to synuclein, and not only stop it from clumping into fibres, but also cause existing fibres to break up into individual molecules. “We didn’t expect the quantum dots to induce disaggregation of fibrils,” says Hong.
If the treatment affects people the same way, Hong says it is unclear how much benefit this would bring. “It’s hard to translate the results in mice to actual patients, whose systems are way more complicated. But we do believe quantum dots can make positive impacts to some extent.”
Image Credit: May C. Schiess, Roger Back, UT Medical School/Science Photo Library
News This Week
A small clinical trial using gold nanoparticles that act as tumor-seeking missiles on a mission to remove prostate cancer has begun at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). It [...]
A small clinical trial using gold nanoparticles that act as tumor-seeking missiles on a mission to remove prostate cancer has begun at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). It is [...]
Nanomedical Device and Systems Design: Challenges, Possibilities, Visions now available to rent on Kindle
To accommodate students who wish to read the book at an affordable cost, Nanomedical Device and Systems Design: Challenges, Possibilities, Visions by Frank Boehm (CEO NanoApps Medical Inc.) is available to rent on Kindle. This book benefits [...]
Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine have developed a new nanotechnology-based immunotherapy that promotes long-term transplant acceptance in an animal model. The development, which is described in the journal Immunity, could transform [...]
“It’s a bit like driving past a vineyard and looking out the window at the vineyard rows. Every now and then, you see no rows because you’re looking directly along a row,” said Nathaniel [...]
The use of nanoparticles and other nanoscale materials has been gathering a lot of significant interest in recent years and has even adapted into its own interdisciplinary field of science known as nanomedicine. Whilst [...]