Regulatory Watchdogs

Center for Regulatory Effectiveness

Greenpeace International
Public Citizen
Sierra Club

Center for Auto Safety
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Clean Air Trust
Corporate Library
Environmental Defense
Environmental Media Services
FM Watch
Friends of the Earth
PR Watch
U.S. Public Interest Research Groups


Can Gray Goo Cure Cancer?
Winston has written several columns asking questions about the potential risks of nanotechnology.. He thinks it only fair to write this column about the potential benefits. One of those benefits is suggested by recent tests showing that "nanoparticle-enabled thermal therapy" killed all the cancer cells in treated mice. All the untreated mice died. As explained in a recent National Science and Technology Report:

    "Researchers at Rice University with funding from NSF and DOD have carried out experiments in which they treat mice, in which cancer has been induced, with nanoparticle-enabled thermal therapy. Gold nanoshells of about 150 nanometers in diameter ere injected into the bloodstream of these mice. This size nanoshell penetrates tumors but not healthy tissue. The nanoshells are also specifically designed to absorb infrared light that passes harmlessly through body tissue. The nanoshells heat up when they absorb infrared light, thereby killing the nearby cancer cells.

    Ninety days after mice with cancer were treated with this photochemical therapy, they appeared healthy and tumor-free, whereas untreated mice had to be euthanized after an average of 12 days due to extensive tumor growth."
The quote is from the National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan, which was published in December 2004. The NNI Plan maps out the federal-government sponsored research on nanotechnology. Virtually every federal agency is involved, and the government is funding nearly $1 billion in research for fiscal year 2005. Winston thinks the money will be well spent if it cures cancer.

On the other hand, according to the NNI Plant, the government is also spending money on an Epcot Center exhibit called "It's a Nanoworld." If you can't get to Florida to see it, you may be able to catch its national tour, or you can go to their web site. Among other attractions, you can climb into a giant blood drop and hunt white blood cells. Winston will skip the exhibit because the very thought of it gives him nightmares about little nano-robots singing "It's a NanoWorld after all."
  • Click for NNI Strategic Plan.
  • Click here for "It's a NanoWorld" web site.

    CRE Homepage