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NIH selects Purdue to use phi29 DNA packaging motor for National Nanomedicine Development Center

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A multidisciplinary Purdue research team will lead one of eight national nanomedicine development centers.

The National Institutes of Health awarded the team $7 million over five years to study the use of a nanomotor, a microscopic biological machine, for potential use in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer, AIDS, hepatitis B and influenza.

The team will take the first steps in research that could lead to using nanomotors to package and deliver therapeutic DNA or RNA to disease-causing cells. This is a feat that could revolutionize medicine, but it faces many challenges, said Peixuan Guo, director of the center and a professor of molecular virology with joint appointments in Purdue's Cancer Research Center, School of Veterinary Medicine and Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

"Nanomedicine, a branch of nanotechnology, calls upon many fields, including engineering, biology, chemistry, mathematics, computation and physics," Guo said. "The NIH centers bring these scientists together and that is the most exciting aspect of this project. We hope to create a medical tool using a device that mimics a natural biological structure. This biomimetic tool will be a hybrid of natural biological structures and synthetic structures that will operate on the nanoscale."

Nanotechnology is defined as structures, devices and systems 1 to 100 nanometers in size that possess novel properties and functions due to the arrangement of their atoms and molecules. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, or 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

The NIH nanomedicine initiative is a network of centers studying biological systems at the nanoscale in an effort to understand and control the molecular complexes responsible for cellular processes. The long-term goal is to develop devices that can control these processes for diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Four nanomedicine cente
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Contact: Elizabeth K. Gardner
ekgardner@purdue.edu
765-494-2081
Purdue University
4-Dec-2006


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