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Breakthrough: Scientists create world's tiniest organic particles

CHAPEL HILL University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill chemists have developed what they believe is a breakthrough method of creating the world's tiniest manufactured particles for delivering drugs and other organic materials into the human body.Adapting technology pioneered by the electronics industry in fabricating transistors, the team has figured out for the first time how to create particles for carrying genetic material, pharmaceuticals and other compounds of unprecedented small size and uniformity. The tiny bits are so small they can be designed and constructed to measure only a hundred nanometers or so in diameter. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter.

Leading the group is Dr. Joseph M. DeSimone, William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished professor of chemistry and chemical engineering at UNC and N.C. State University. A member of the UNC College of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, DeSimone also directs the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Environmentally Responsible Solvents and Processes and the Institute for Advanced Materials, Nanoscience and Technology at UNC.

"Billions of dollars are being spent now on nanotechnology and nanoparticles, but 99 percent of the materials people are focusing on are metals and metal oxides, which are inorganic," DeSimone said. "Our method, which is really exciting, for the first time opens the world's door to marrying organic materials to nanotechnology. Biology, after all, is almost exclusively organic materials."We really believe this work will have a profound positive impact down the road on human health care. This includes, but is not limited to, chemotherapy, gene therapy, disease detection and drug delivery."

A report on the findings appeared online this morning (June 21) in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Other authors -- all in chemistry at UNC -- are Drs. Jason P. Rolland and Ginger M. Denison, recent Ph.D. recipients; Drs. Benjamin W. Ma
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Contact: David Williamson
rdtokids@email.unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
21-Jun-2005


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