Special Nanotubes May Be Used as a Vehicle for Treating Neurodegenerative Disorders

Jan 13, 2009
PC12 cell culture with nerve growth factor-incorporated magnetic nanotubes: Micrograph image of a typical PC12 cell with cell body and neurites. The inset is a magnified image of the growth cone area.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Electrical engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have demonstrated that magnetic nanotubes combined with nerve growth factor can enable specific cells to differentiate into neurons. The results from in vitro studies show that magnetic nanotubes may be exploited to treat neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease because they can be used as a delivery vehicle for nerve growth factor.

“Due to their structure and properties, magnetic nanotubes are among the most promising candidates of multifunctional nanomaterials for clinical diagnostic and therapeutic applications,” said Jining Xie, research assistant professor and lead author of the study. “We’re excited about these results specifically and the overall promise of functionalized nanotubes to treat patients with these debilitating conditions.”

Xie, Linfeng Chen, senior research associate in the Center for Wireless Nano-, Bio- and Info-Tech Sensors and Systems, and researchers from Arkansas State University worked with rat pheochromocytoma, otherwise known as PC12 cells. PC12 cells were chosen because they require nerve growth factor - a small, secreted protein that helps nerve cells survive - to differentiate into neurons.

Image showing growth cone sending filopodia toward magnetic nanotubes and making contact with them.


The researchers knew that any sign of nerve growth would indicate interactions between the PC12 cells and the nanotubes. They observed neurite growth, specifically filopodia - slender projections that extend from the leading edge of migrating cells - extruding from neurite growth cones toward the nanotubes incorporated with nerve growth factor.

“Microscopic observations showed filopodia extending from the growth cones were in close proximity to the nanotubes, at time appearing to reach out toward or into them,” Xie said.

The results did not show any abnormal toxicity from the nanotubes.

The human nervous system depends upon a complex network of neurons, or nerve cells, tied to each other by synapses. The synaptic connections occur through neurites, which are immature or developing neurons. When these connections fail, the nervous system does not function properly, eventually leading to injury or disease. As Xie mentioned, the researchers hope that functionalized nanotubes can help restore or repair damaged nerve cells.

Xie collaborates with Vijay Varadan, distinguished professor of electrical engineering and director of the Center for Wireless Nano-, Bio- and Info-Tech Sensors and Systems, which is supported by the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Another collaborator was Malathi Srivatsan, associate professor of biology at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Ark.

Varadan holds the College of Engineering’s Twenty-First Century Endowed Chair in Nano- and Bio-Technologies and Medicine and the college’s Chair in Microelectronics and High Density Electronics. In addition to his position as director of the above center, he directs the university’s High Density Electronics Center. Varadan is also a professor of neurosurgery in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Ark.

The researchers’ findings were published in Nanotechnology, an Institute of Physics Publishing journal. An online version of the article is available at www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/-searc… 57-4484/19/10/105101 .

Provided by University of Arkansas

Explore further: Tough foam from tiny sheets

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Killer sperm' prevents mating between worm species

56 minutes ago

The classic definition of a biological species is the ability to breed within its group, and the inability to breed outside it. For instance, breeding a horse and a donkey may result in a live mule offspring, ...

Full appeals court upholds labels on meat packages

1 hour ago

(AP)—A federal appeals court has upheld new government rules that require labels on packaged steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat to say where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered.

Chinese smartphone makers win as market swells

1 hour ago

Chinese smartphone makers racked up big gains as the global market for Internet-linked handsets grew to record levels in the second quarter, International Data Corp said Tuesday.

Connected devices have huge security holes: study

1 hour ago

The surge Web-connected devices—TVs, refrigerators, thermostats, door locks and more—has opened up huge opportunities for cyberattacks because of weak security, researchers said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Tough foam from tiny sheets

19 hours ago

Tough, ultralight foam of atom-thick sheets can be made to any size and shape through a chemical process invented at Rice University.

Graphene surfaces on photonic racetracks

Jul 28, 2014

In an article published in Optics Express, scientists from The University of Manchester describe how graphene can be wrapped around a silicon wire, or waveguide, and modify the transmission of light through it.

Simulating the invisible

Jul 28, 2014

Panagiotis Grammatikopoulos in the OIST Nanoparticles by Design Unit simulates the interactions of particles that are too small to see, and too complicated to visualize. In order to study the particles' behavior, he uses ...

Building 'invisible' materials with light

Jul 28, 2014

A new method of building materials using light, developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, could one day enable technologies that are often considered the realm of science fiction, such as invisibility ...

User comments : 0