• Question: do you work with a variety of drugs or is there a specific kind? also is there a common drug that always comes up when testing people?

    Asked by #bffwithmena to Natalie on 11 Nov 2015.
    • Photo: Natalie Garrett

      Natalie Garrett answered on 11 Nov 2015:


      I remember you from the chat session yesterday 🙂 I work with nanoparticles that are designed to carry drugs into the body. Think of them as teeny tiny little bubbles, which can trap drugs inside them. They’re pretty neat, they’re made from a protein found in crab shells called chitosan (it’s similar to the protein in your hair, keratin, and the protein in beetle shells, chitin). If you take this, purify it, grind it up and do some funky chemistry, you end up with something with a ridiculously long name that I will call GCPQ for short. All you have to do is add this powder to water, stir in the drug and hey presto! The little nanoparticles form all by themselves, with the drug on the inside and the GCPQ making a protective layer all around the outside.

      The really cool thing is you can use the GCPQ nanoparticles to carry lots of different types of drugs into the body. So, I’ve looked at anti-cancer drugs and drugs for treating pain, but the list is potentially endless of what you can use the nanoparticles for. Generally it’s a good idea to use something you understand well when you’re testing the nanoparticles: these tests are usually done with pain killers.