To the ranks of horses, donkeys, camels and other animals that have served humanity as pack animals or beasts of burden, scientists are now enlisting bacteria to ferry nano-medicine cargos throughout the human body. They reported on progress in developing these “backpacking” bacteria — so small that a million would fit on the head of a pin — in San Diego on March 29 at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
“Cargo-carrying bacteria may be an answer to a major roadblock in using nano-medicine to prevent, diagnose and treat disease,” David H. Gracias, Ph.D., leader of the research team said. Gracias explained that nanotechnology is the engineering of ultra-small machines and other devices. These devices generally lack practical self-sustaining motors to move particles of medication, sensors and other material to diseased parts of the body. So why not attach such cargo to bacteria, which have self-propulsion systems, and have them hike around the human body?