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In the Brain, “ORMOSIL” Nanoparticles Hold Promise as a Potential Vehicle for Drug Delivery

In a new study on fruit flies, the nanoparticles do not harm cells or interfere with the brain's normal function

Story content courtesy of University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, US

In the images of fruit flies, clusters of neurons are all lit up, forming a brightly glowing network of highways within the brain.

It's exactly what University at Buffalo researcher Shermali Gunawardena was hoping to see: It meant that ORMOSIL, a novel class of nanoparticles, had successfully penetrated the insects' brains. And even after long-term exposure, the cells and the flies themselves remained unharmed.

The particles, which are tagged with fluorescent proteins, hold promise as a potential vehicle for drug delivery.

Gunawardena is particularly interested in using ORMOSIL -- organically modified silica -- to target problems within neurons that may be related to neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease.

The recent study on fruit flies is a step toward making this happen, demonstrating that long-term exposure to ORMOSIL, through breathing and feeding, did not injure the animals. The next step is for her team to see if they can find a way to force the ORMOSIL to latch onto motor proteins.

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