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Biotech News

Nano-Probes Stay Inside a Cell's Nucleus for Days 123

Posted by samzenpus
from the from-the-inside-out dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) have developed fluorescent and stable nano-probes which can stay inside a cell's nucleus for hours or even days. According to this LBL news release, this will help biologists to better understand nuclear processes that evolve slowly, such as DNA replication, genomic alterations, and cell cycle control. This research was partially based on previous investigations about quantum dots. Now, the researchers want to tailor their quantum dots, which emit different colors depending on their sizes, to check specific chemical reactions inside nuclei, such as how proteins help repair DNA after irradiation. Read more for other details and references and to see how a nano-sized probe is entering a cell's nucleus."
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Nano-Probes Stay Inside a Cell's Nucleus for Days

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 31, 2005 @07:04AM (#12098559)
    One step closer to Borg technology. Awesome.
    • Still a long way to go... It's one thing to get the machines we make into cells, it's quite another to understand what the hell's going on.

      Just look at proteinsl; they provide structure, enzymes, channels (for transport of molecules through cell walls) and other rolls. Yet, we still can't deal with more than the smallest ones.

      The benefits of this advancement lay in the little things, like now being able to put a "camera" of sorts in cells in vito!

      I'm thinking more "inner space" than "borg".
  • Pah! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 31, 2005 @07:06AM (#12098565)
    That's not news. My girlfriend been telling me I've a nano-sized probe for years, now.
  • Only care . . . (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    . . . if they show me how mitochondria replicate.
  • Uh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by sp3tt (856121) <sp3tt@noSpam.sp3tt.se> on Thursday March 31, 2005 @07:08AM (#12098570)
    "such as DNA replication"
    Genetic pr0n? Sure tells us a lot about the minds of scientists.
  • Alarmist (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ossington (853347) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @07:08AM (#12098572)
    Am I the only one who's scared that they've managed to create nanobots that can stay inside of us?
    • Re:Alarmist (Score:3, Informative)

      I think you misread "bots" for "dots"... if indeed you even RTFA ;)
    • Re:Alarmist (Score:5, Informative)

      by Evil W1zard (832703) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @07:20AM (#12098606) Journal
      These really aren't nanobots. The definition of nanotechnology comprises any technological developments on the nanometer scale, usually 0.1 to 100 nm. In my opinion I believe that when you say the word "nanotechnology" most people today would think of super tiny robots (thanks to tv and movies). With that said these are not tiny little robots, they are crystals. So there is no reason to be alarmed because the the nano-sized attack robots have not yet been made.
      • Well, you're pushing the lower limit a bit there. Nanotech is normally defined as 1-100 nm.
        Otherwise it would include all chemistry.

        Hell, even water is well over 0.1 nm side to side!
      • Re:Alarmist (Score:3, Funny)

        by Eosha (242724)
        Does that mean we can't use any "welcome our microscopic fluorescent overlords" jokes?
      • Actually, the term has been co-pted by anyone working on such a scale, much to the behest of Eric Drexler, the scientist who originally coined the term to describe extremely tiny machines.

        'Nano' Suddenly a Gigantic Label [wired.com]

        I believe he is using a new word, instead of nanotechnology, to describe his vision - but I can't seem to find it anywhere.
      • For sci-fi and nanotech, check out "Grey Goo" [nanoinvestornews.com], a rather... weird... comic about nanotech.
    • Nature has already beat us by a couple billion years. They're called "viruses" or in some cases "bacteria".
  • One word.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Jon (605125) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @07:09AM (#12098574)
    ..medichlorians.
  • Idea... (Score:1, Funny)

    by ImaLamer (260199)
    Put freakin' laser-beams on the heads of those nano-probes and have them kill cancer?
  • "Nanoprobe" (Score:5, Funny)

    by jokestress (837997) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @07:29AM (#12098621)
    That's my nickname for my ex-boyfriend! /here all week //try the veal
  • by amanox (862297) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @07:41AM (#12098654)
    I'm just curious : how can they observer without interfering the process they observe? I'm no biologist, but I'm pretty sure the nucleus must have some kind of reaction to a foreign body entering it. Not to mention the recation coused by the illuminating the nucleus: these probes seem to emit some kind of light. This must have at least some effect on the readings they get from these probes.
    • + there was a "quantum" word used, and whenewer I see one I know that you cant observe without interfering





      j/k ...sortof
      • The word 'quantum' in 'quantum dot' is misleading. The dimensions of a quantum dot are typically between a few nanometeres (billionths of a meter) to a few microns. Smaller ones, down to a single electron, can be made, and at that size they would definitely be subject to the laws of quantum of physics-- but at the more typical sizes, they're too big to worry about wave functions, and behave more like the everyday materials with which we're familiar-- except for those properties such as hue and reflectivit
        • Smaller ones, down to a single electron, can be made, and at that size they would definitely be subject to the laws of quantum of physics-- but at the more typical sizes, they're too big to worry about wave functions, and behave more like the everyday materials with which we're familiar-- except for those properties such as hue and reflectivity that are tailored during fabrication.

          Well, I will admit that quantum dots don't have dual wave-particle like electrons, but it is utterly wrong to say that they'

    • by janek78 (861508) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @08:07AM (#12098729) Homepage
      It's been a long time since my biology classes, but I can't think of any reaction to foreign body inside a cell (at least not in the usual way). A cell hasn't got an immune system of it's own. Of course it has systems capable of expelling foreign/toxic chemicals out of the cell (exocytosis, pinocytosis), but it is altogether different from say your body's reaction to a foreign body. So these microcrystals will probably in some way interfere with the inner working of the cell (it trying to expell it) but they do not neccessarily need to interfere with the actual working of the nucleus.
      • A cell does have a defense system of its own. How else would some bacteria have resistance to virii?

        One of the ways that molecular biologists knock out genes that they wish to study is by a proccess called RNA inteference. They do this by inserting a peice of DNA with the complementary sequence of the targeted gene. The cell then transcribes both the gene and the opposite gene into mRNA, these two mRNA fragments hybridize forming double stranded RNA. A typical cell never has stranded RNA (virii do caus
      • Just a note. Pinoctytosis is for bringing forein materials in and exocytosis is for sending proteins out of the cell via the golgi aperatus, neither are really for spitting out foreign/toxic chemicals.
      • There is 'defense' within the cell.

        Lupus is partially do to the body trying to attack the DNA within cells.
    • I'm not a biologist either, but I do not think that the nucleis will react to the insertion of these probes in a way that they affect the observations. The nucleus is of 10-20 micrometres in size, whereas the inserted probes are made of a few hundred to thousand atoms.
      The second thing is that I am quite sure that the guys at Berkeley Lab did think about interference with the intra-nucleus reactions. And if they can keep the things in there for hours and days, it's most likely not to interfere. It also says
    • You can actually stick all kinds of stuff into a cell without causing problems (unless you react with the contents chemically, or disrupt the cell membrane). You can even add functionality to the cell, for example by injecting additional DNA, and it will treat the new material as part of itself. This is how viruses work, and the only defense is to eradicate the virus before it infects the cell, or destroy the infected cell completely.

      As to the light produced, I doubt this will have a negative effect unless
    • by Anonymous Coward
      fluorescent dyes are used in all kinds of molecular biology experiments; generally they don't interfere with biological processes although in some cases they do (some of the larger dyes do cause spatial hinderences). quantum dots are sooo much smaller than current dyes that they're virtually guaranteed to not interfere. and the light they emit is extremely limited; the cool thing with quantum dots (and their detectors) is that you can detect single or at least handful of photons.. that's not going to illumi
      • ...it's like throwing a ping pong ball at the sun, not gonna affect it.

        Im pretty sure the ping ping ball would melt or at least burst in to flames - if thats not affecting it, I don't know what is!

        Ohhh, you meant affect the sun... Damn.

    • The scientists can observe without interfering in these ways:

      The only way that the "probe" could interfere with the nuclear processes would be by reacting with either the DNA or the proteins that are replicating the DNA. Because the probes, called QDots, are chemically inert chunks of semi-conductor, they are chemically unreactive. So no, the nucleus doesn't have any reaction to a foreign body entering it, unless the foreign body chemically reacts with whatever is already in the nucleus, and the "prob
  • Now we have nanoprobes that are stable and can communicate.

    Guess the only item on TODO list is the actual assimilation. :)
  • fluorescent (Score:4, Funny)

    by hovercraftSpareWheel (731518) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @08:05AM (#12098724)
    ...fluorescent and stable nano-probes which can stay inside a cell's nucleus for hours or even days.

    Now we can mod our heads to match our PC cases!
  • Nucular (Score:1, Funny)

    by Stachel (718095)
    [i]this will help biologists to better understand nuclear processes[/i]

    Nucular - it's nucular.
  • by nyri (132206) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @08:20AM (#12098771)
    I will give him a little credit as he links sometimes to intresting articles. But I must say that his blog sucks big time. He has scored a slashdot.org article 13 times this year. From Ronalds account page [slashdot.org]:
    Robotic Nanotech Swarms on Mars... in 2034 [slashdot.org] 14:54 Wednesday 30 March 2005
    Nano-Probes Stay Inside a Cell's Nucleus for Days [slashdot.org] 19:42 Tuesday 29 March 2005
    The Rise of Smart Buildings [slashdot.org] 22:19 Saturday 19 March 2005
    3D Virtualization Edges Toward the Mainstream [slashdot.org] 21:57 Sunday 13 March 2005
    Taking Care of Mobile Patients [slashdot.org] 20:20 Saturday 26 February 2005
    Smart Holograms Used as Biosensors [slashdot.org] 20:22 Sunday 20 February 2005
    Wearable PC with an Artificial-Reality Helmet [slashdot.org] 20:20 Saturday 19 February 2005
    Transgenic Mustard Cleans Up Soils [slashdot.org] 22:38 Tuesday 15 February 2005
    Elektro, the Oldest U.S. Robot [slashdot.org] 16:35 Thursday 10 February 2005
    Open-Source Streaming Translations in Porto Alegre [slashdot.org] 15:33 Monday 31 January 2005
    RFID-Equipped Robots Used as Guide Dogs [slashdot.org] 19:35 Saturday 29 January 2005
    Streaming a Database in Real Time [slashdot.org] 23:58 Friday 21 January 2005
    Morse Code Used by Human Cells? [slashdot.org] 20:05 Wednesday 12 January 2005
    Engineered Enhancers Closer Than You Think [slashdot.org] 20:54 Friday 31 December 2004
    Transparent Transistors Are Coming [slashdot.org] 22:20 Wednesday 29 December 2004
    DURL, a Search Tool for del.icio.us [slashdot.org] 14:47 Monday 27 December 2004
    IBM Prepares 100-Terabyte Tape Drives [slashdot.org] 15:19 Sunday 26 December 2004
    With Linux Clusters, Seeing Is Believing [slashdot.org] 16:47 Monday 13 December 2004
    Self-Adapting Traffic Lights [slashdot.org] 19:07 Sunday 05 December 2004
    Robotic Science Network Watches Our Oceans [slashdot.org] 23:32 Friday 03 December 2004

    I think I speak for most readers here when I yell: SLASHDOT EDITORS, PLEASE, NO MORE LINKS TO RONALDS NO-GOOD BLOG.
  • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @08:55AM (#12098863) Homepage

    Imagine getting some that fluoresce under 'black light' and putting those suckers in your epidermal/dermal cells! You'd be the hit of the club scene changing colors and glowing!

    • even more popular would be squid DNA - can you imagine a club full of humans with chromatophores [wikipedia.org]?

      tentacles would be cool and useful too...and possibly open up opportunities for a lucrative career in the anime tentacle-porn industry. :)

      • Funny you should say that - I'll pass on the tentacles, but I've wanted chromataphores since I was a kid. How cool would that be? My wife would know my mood without either of us having to say a thing. On second thought, that might not be good...

  • "Nano" everywhere! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nuffsaid (855987)
    How is this significantly different from the fluorescent marking techniques used for ages in conventional microscopy? It lasts longer? Big deal. Do calling things "nano" attract more funds/media attention? Sure! http://www.hardydiagnostics.com/Glossary-F.html [hardydiagnostics.com]
    • in theory, the qdots ar more stable (less photobleaching) a recognized problem with std labels, and they have narrower emission spectra, so multiplexing is easier (eg std labels like fluorescein and rhodamine have wide emission spectra that overlap)(altho the lanthanide chelates have 10 nm fwhm)
      potentially, you can tune the excitation and emission spectra to match your laser lines, so if someone develops a real cheap stable diode laser, you can tune the dot to that line
      on the other hand, the qdots are big e
      • by bodrell (665409)

        in theory, the qdots ar more stable (less photobleaching) a recognized problem with std labels, and they have narrower emission spectra, so multiplexing is easier (eg std labels like fluorescein and rhodamine have wide emission spectra that overlap)(altho the lanthanide chelates have 10 nm fwhm)

        You obviously have never heard of BODIPY [invitrogen.com] fluorophores, although I admit the admission spectrum is not quite as narrow as you describe. Multiplexing is easier with quantum dots, but you excite all of them at the

  • by clambake (37702) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @09:47AM (#12099133) Homepage
    So, if you could tag all the cancer cells with something that emits a beacon, then does that mean you could home in on them with a gamma knife and elimite them in any delicate part of the body with perfect accuracy?
    • by merlin_jim (302773) <James,McCracken&stratapult,com> on Thursday March 31, 2005 @10:47AM (#12099633)
      So, if you could tag all the cancer cells with something that emits a beacon

      There's a company that's working on an enzyme dye using jellyfish flourescence to do just that. This would work in theory even after it has metastized.

      then does that mean you could home in on them with a gamma knife and elimite them in any delicate part of the body with perfect accuracy?

      Forget gamma knife. Proton treatment [llu.edu] is where it's at. Get radiation treatment for your prostate cancer in the morning, play tennis in the afternoon. Basically they create a 3D model of the tumor and modulate the proton beam's energy and shape (using a series of masks) so that the protons deposit most of their energy inside the tumor. There's a small amount that gets deposited ahead of it and none behind. Much cleaner/better than other radiation treatments. I've heard that with early diagnosis they're getting phenomenal success rates. And its outpatient.
    • Researchers have been tagging cancer cells with antibodies since the at least the late 80's. The holy grail of antibody therapy is to attach chemotherapeutic agents or radioactive isotopes to antibodies. The antibodies would insure that the majority of the therapeutic agent is deposited on the surface of tumor cells. This would be especially effective for small metasticized tumors that can't be detected by conventional means.
  • by cinnamon colbert (732724) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @11:04AM (#12099814) Journal
    See, for instance, the quantum dot company (www.qdot.com). What is new is using a bio tag to direct the dot into the nucleus; such tags ("nuclear localiztion signals") are well known in theliteratrue for proteins, so what is new is that they took qdots and coated them with one of these signals. So, this is an addittion to the large catalog of optical probes that biologiest have.
  • Is because Steve Gibson codes them with 100% Assembly Language.
  • I'm sorry, I read the headline as "Nano-pubes".
  • Nanoprobes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jhbradl (872293)
    I work in this field in graduate school and this technology is both old and new. The major problems right now are the toxicity on the cell. The actual probes can be modified or coated to exist within a cell without any major problems but when they breakdown, your body doesn't agree with some of the heavy metals that are released. As far as the word quantum goes, that only refers to the way that the electrons are confined withing the quantum dot. It is what gives the signal that you see. Safer particles
  • Who needs to release press releases anymore? Just get some old technology that, like just about everything prefixed with nano- these days, could be useful but is nowhere near ready for prime-time, and get it posted to /.
    Few people here know anything about molecular biology, as the "longest chemical name" [slashdot.org] article made clear, so you'll get millions of hits with virtually zero risk of someone calling you out or asking inconvenient questions.

  • of why nanotech will accelerate science in various areas.

    And why people who denigrate the probability of massive changes in human biology as a result of nanotech are ignoring the synergistic effects. Nanotech will speed up scientific research in many areas, allowing much faster technology development than most specialists think is likely in their particular field of endeavor.

    Drexler predicted this effect in "Engines of Creation" and it is still consistently ignored by most "pundits".
  • Imagine a technology where one was able to label a specific molecule, incorporate it into a cell, and watch where the cells go? Amazing? It's what we've done in nuclear medicine (PET and SPECT imaging) for years. In fact, just today I did this in a rat nerve cell.

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