Globe and Mail discovers nanomedicine

Business writer, Nick Rockel, has an October 4, 2011 article titled, Nano-technology [sic] coming to the doctor’s office, in The Globe and Mail newspaper. Dr. Jillian Buriak and her colleague, Dr.Lori West (my latest posting about their work was April 28, 2011) were heavily featured in it. From the Oct. 4, 2011 article in The Globe and Mail,

One of Dr. Buriak’s key collaborators on the transplantation project is Lori West, a U of A [University of Alberta] professor of pediatrics, surgery and immunology. Dr. West, a renowned cardiac transplant expert, is known for her discovery that children younger than two will not reject a heart from a donor with a different blood type.

That’s because the immune system is still developing during infancy. Even more remarkably, if a baby with Type A blood gets a Type B heart, it will develop a lifelong tolerance for B and AB blood.

The U of A team “functionalized” so-called stealth nano-particles with the antigens, or markers, that blood cells use to recognize each other. In animal tests, it introduced these particles into the bloodstream in an attempt to teach the body to tolerate every blood type.

Dr. Buriak, who hopes to move to more advanced models by 2015, says the nano-particles could eventually join the standard set of shots that children receive. “Later, if you ever had to have an organ transplant or a transfusion, you wouldn’t have to wait for the right one – you could just take any of them.”

Buriak’s and West’s strategy for avoiding organ rejection contrasts with the strategy used by a joint (Swedish/UK/US) team, which I featured in an August 2, 2011 posting about their work transplanting a synthetic windpipe coated with stem cells harvested from the patient receiving the new organ.

Rockel’s article goes on to provide descriptions of other nanomedicine initiatives (a mix of Canadian- and US-based projects). He employs the usual ‘war against disease’ rhetorical style common to articles about any kind of medicine even when he’s including a ‘kinder, gentler’ quote such as,

People keep asking when her field will deliver a killer app like the cure for cancer, Dr. Buriak says. “But what nanotechnology has done more than anything else is bring people together who normally would never talk to each other,” she explains. [emphases mine]

As one would expect from a business writer, the article concludes with a list of three commercially available nanomedicne products. I wish Rockel had stated whether or not he’s done additional research into these products since this list is culled from the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) database. As I’ve noted before (my July 26, 2011 posting) there is no oversight provided by PEN nor does the organization require any description of how the product is nanotechnology-enable, as they openly admit.

I’m glad to see more coverage of nanotechnology and that writers from many specialties are learning about it. As for why I described Nick Rockel as a business writer, here’s his description of his work,

Market forces are one thing, but you can’t force somebody to read about the markets. Nick Rockel helps you connect with your audience. A veteran writer and editor, Nick knows how to grab people’s attention by giving them access to the financial and investment world. Whether it’s hedge funds or herding behaviour, he presents complex subjects in clear and simple terms, without any jargon or bafflegab. Most important, Nick finds the story behind the numbers and makes it resonate with readers.

He advertizes himself as providing Financial Wrting, Editing & Research.

4 thoughts on “Globe and Mail discovers nanomedicine

  1. BaxDoc

    Interesting piece, Frogheart. Where’s old Peter Medawar when you need him?! (He’s the Egyptian born, British immunologist who found nearly 100 years ago that a black mouse would not reject cells from a white mouse if it was done early enough in the life cycle.) How soon we forget ..
    The nano slant is interesting …
    write on!

  2. admin

    Hi BaxDoc! Nice to see you back on the blog and thank you for boggling my mind. A 100 years ago, they tried this with mice? I think you need to write a popular science book one of these days with a ‘plus ça change, plus ça la même chose’ theme. Maybe? Cheers, Maryse

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