Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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New Departures
12 December 2012

New Departures

Life depends on deliveries. Inside us, chemical messages are sent around inside our cells, between cells in tissues and among distant organs, millions of times per day. Disruption or delay to these vital communications can lead to all sorts of illnesses. Pictured is a fleet of tiny man-made messengers, called nanotrains, designed to one day carry chemicals back and forth inside our bodies, assisting our natural transport networks with the burden. Built from a carbon nanotube 100,000,000 times smaller than a train carriage, each nanotrain is pulled along by an electric current. The thousands of nanotrains pictured (emitting dots of green light seen through a microscope high above) are on a test run – carrying a cargo of chemical ‘mail bags’, or liposomes, around a man-made track. In the future, nanotrains might be scheduled to offload liposomes into a diseased cell or tissue – truly a first-class delivery.

Written by John Ankers

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