Nano-technology research make medicine faster, cheaper greener

Nano-technology research to make medicine faster, cheaper and greener

12:04 AM, 23rd November 2011
Nano-technology research to make medicine faster, cheaper and greener
Professor Dimitrios Stamou, Bio-Nanotechnology Laboratory, University of Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK: Nano Technology Researchers at the University of Copenhagen are working for the development of a new method that will make it possible to develop drugs faster and greener. This will lead to cheaper medicine for consumers.

Over the last 5 years the Bionano Group at the Nano-Science Center and the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen has been working to characterise and test how molecules react, combine and form larger molecules, which can be used in the development of new medicine.

The resultant volume of the reaction is 10-19 liters which is billion times smaller than anyone has managed to work with. The ultra small nanoreactors have walls made of lipids. During their fusion events volumes of one billionth of a liter were transferred between nanoreactors allowing their cargos to mix and react chemically. A typical reaction is carried out in a million of individual chemical reactions per cm2 in not more than a few minutes.

"We are the first in the world to demonstrate that it is possible to mix and work with such small amounts of material. When we reach such unprecedented small volumes we can test many more reactions in parallel and that is the basis for the development of new drugs. In addition, we have reduced our use of materials considerably and that is beneficial to both the environment and the pocketbook," said Professor Dimitrios Stamou, Bio-Nanotechnology Laboratory, University of Copenhagen, who predicts that the method will be of interest to industry because it makes it possible to investigate drugs faster, cheaper and greener.

The team of professor Stamou reached such small scales because they are working with self-assembling systems. Self-assembling systems occurs because some molecules fit with certain other molecules so well that they assemble together into a common structure. Self-assembly is a fundamental principle in nature and occurs at all the different size scales, ranging from the formation of solar systems to the folding of DNA.

"By using nanotechnology we have been able to observe how specific self-assembling systems, such as biomolecules, react to different substances and have used this knowledge to develop the method. The self-assembling systems consist entirely of biological materials such as fat and as a result do not impact the environment, in contrast to the materials commonly used in industry today (e.g. plastics, silicon and metals). This and the dramatic reduction in the amount of used materials makes the technique more environment friendly, ‘greener'," explains Dimitrios Stamou.

© University of Copenhagen News

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