Gene Signaling by Remote

Nanoparticles in mice can be switched on to activate insulin production using a radio signal.

By | May 7, 2012

Cobalt graphene nanoparticleWIKIMEDIA COMMONS, SUPERMASTER2011

Linking nanoparticles to antibodies that stick to a heat-sensitive channel in the body called TRPV1, researchers can open the channel by warming the nanoparticles with radiowaves, allowing calcium to enter the cells, according to a reports published last week (May 4) in Science. The researchers used mice that were engineered to release insulin in response the surge of calcium that TRPV1 triggered, but they were not aiming to design a therapy for diabetes, per se, reported Nature.

“There are many good treatments for diabetes that are much simpler,” lead author Jeffrey Friedman from the Rockefeller University in New York told Nature. The process, in which Friedman used a miniature MRI to produce the low-frequency radio waves that locally warm the nanoparticles, was used more as a proof of concept that the idea could work within the deep tissues of the body non-invasively. The technique could be used to treat diseases in which a protein deficiency is the root cause of the disorder.  In addition, the TRPV1 binding nanoparticles could be used to study calcium-dependent cellular processes such as muscle contraction or neuronal firing.

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