“Nanorockets could deliver drugs inside the body”

I don’t think I can summarize this brief article any better than their title. From New Scientist:

NANOROCKETS powered by a benign rocket fuel could one day carry drugs around the body…

Samuel Sanchez and colleagues at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Dresden, Germany, made nanotubes by rolling platinum-coated sheets of metal into tubes with the platinum on the inside.

When the team placed the tubes in a warm, weak solution of hydrogen peroxide, the platinum catalysed the decomposition of peroxide into water and oxygen. This forced bubbles of gas out of one end of the tube, generating thrust in the opposite direction…

The result is a nanorocket that travels up to 200 times its own length per second, faster than the quickest bacteria. The team can steer the tubes using a magnetic field and control the speed by varying the temperature of the fluid…

This is one of the few engines that can operate in blood, urine or saliva, says Joseph Wang, a nano-engineer at the University of California, San Diego.

My first question, naturally, is why you’d want a nanorocket to deliver drugs. Is good old blood too old-fashioned now? They’re working on making the fuel less toxic, but could the thrust itself be dangerous, piercing cell membranes? This article is short on context and unfortunately apparently the only article on this research. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting concept on its own.

I somehow don’t see nanorocket drug delivery systems as becoming common, but if they do, you saw it here first!


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