Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

In Depth

Drug levitation a rising science for researchers

Thursday, 15 Nov, 2012 - 02:16

Nov. 15 - Scientists in the US are developing powerful new drugs by using sound waves to make their chemical components levitate in mid-air. It's part of a new technique that researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory hope will lead to the creation of drugs more effective than those currently available. Ben Gruber has more.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

These tiny plastic spheres are floating in mid-air... and while it may seem like a trick, physicist Chris Benmore says it not magic, it's science. Using technology originally developed by NASA, Benmore has set up a pair of speakers that shoot identical sound waves at one another . (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRIS BENMORE, PHYSICIST, ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY, SAYING: "A sound wave is essentially a pressure wave so what you really have is a pressure wave coming in one direction and another pressure wave a equal size coming in the other direction. And where those pressure waves meet they cancel and that creates a little pocket of space. So if you put an object in that space, if it tries to get out it will be pushed back in by either wave." And while levitation looks impressive, Benmore hopes it will have an equally magical impact on the production of new, more powerful drugs. The goal, he says, is to develop drugs with amorphous or glassy molecular structures. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRIS BENMORE, PHYSICIST, ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY, SAYING: "The key to making things glassy or amorphous is to try to deeply super-cool a liquid. And the best way to deeply super-cool a liquid is by not having a container because if you have a surface that interacts with a container that creates little nucleation points where it can form a crystal. So if there is no surface you are more likely to keep in the liquid state and super-cool all the way through to a glass. And a glass can have very different properties than a crystal." Benmore says amorphous drugs are a lot more soluble in the body than those with crystal structures - and therefore significantly more powerful in treating many diseases. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRIS BENMORE, PHYSICIST, ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY, SAYING: "We are working on different classes of drugs. Particularly HIV drugs as well as co-crystals as well as other to see where it is best effective." The arduous task of cataloguing the drugs best suited for amorphous structuring and finding a way to scale up production are the main barriers to industrializing the process of drug development through levitation. But given its potential for producing more effective drugs, Benmore says he thinks it's inevitable that pharmaceutical companies will soon want to float the idea for themselves.

Drug levitation a rising science for researchers

Thursday, 15 Nov, 2012 - 02:16

Most Popular »

Editors' Picks »

The Exchange »

The Exchange: Hot commodity The Exchange: Hot commodity

Wed, 16 Jul, 2014 - (9:25)

The Exchange: Constitutional crusade The Exchange: Constitutional crusade

Wed, 25 Jun, 2014 - (11:35)

The Exchange: The value of money The Exchange: The value of money

Mon, 02 Jun, 2014 - (9:53)

The Exchange: China’s Second Continent The Exchange: China’s Second Continent

Tue, 27 May, 2014 - (9:35)

The Exchange: A master of business arts The Exchange: A master of business arts

Thu, 08 May, 2014 - (8:24)

The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities

Mon, 05 May, 2014 - (8:52)

The Exchange: Let the rocking commence The Exchange: Let the rocking commence

Tue, 08 Apr, 2014 - (8:13)

The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies

Mon, 24 Mar, 2014 - (9:54)

Is doing good a good business? Is doing good a good business?

Mon, 17 Mar, 2014 - (7:38)

Oddly Enough »

Elephants 'lovin' polo tournament Elephants 'lovin' polo tournament

Thu, 28 Aug, 2014 - (1:31)

Triplet pandas celebrate a milestone Triplet pandas celebrate a milestone

Thu, 28 Aug, 2014 - (0:48)

Group shatters record for longest flower garland by a mile Group shatters record for longest flower...

Wed, 27 Aug, 2014 - (1:30)

Masked hero sweeps clean Masked hero sweeps clean

Tue, 26 Aug, 2014 - (1:10)

Right muddy mess at World Bog Snorkeling Championships Right muddy mess at World Bog Snorkeling...

Tue, 26 Aug, 2014 - (1:11)

Hello Kitty conquers space Hello Kitty conquers space

Mon, 25 Aug, 2014 - (1:11)

Japanese zoo welcomes red panda cub Japanese zoo welcomes red panda cub

Mon, 25 Aug, 2014 - (0:42)

Is it a plane? No, it's a hoverbike Is it a plane? No, it's a hoverbike

Fri, 22 Aug, 2014 - (2:40)

Fox kicks off "Simpsons" mega marathon Fox kicks off "Simpsons" mega marathon

Thu, 21 Aug, 2014 - (0:56)

Six-story tall duck floats into L.A. port Six-story tall duck floats into L.A. port

Thu, 21 Aug, 2014 - (1:02)

Young artist paints surreal illusions on bodies Young artist paints surreal illusions on...

Thu, 21 Aug, 2014 - (1:30)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, 19 Feb, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, 10 Jan, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, 29 Aug, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, 29 Aug, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, 05 Aug, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, 17 Dec, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sun, 09 Dec, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Mon, 10 Dec, 2012 - (10:39)

Moving Pictures »

Images of August Images of August

Fri, 29 Aug, 2014 - (1:00)

Mending dolls, teddies and hearts Mending dolls, teddies and hearts

Fri, 22 Aug, 2014 - (3:12)

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, 11 Aug, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, 08 Aug, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Fri, 01 Aug, 2014 - (1:20)

World Cup: passion on the pitch World Cup: passion on the pitch

Fri, 11 Jul, 2014 - (1:00)

A refugee in America gives back A refugee in America gives back

Thu, 03 Jul, 2014 - (3:25)

A long search for refuge A long search for refuge

Fri, 20 Jun, 2014 - (3:04)

World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals

Fri, 06 Jun, 2014 - (1:08)

VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light

Fri, 30 May, 2014 - (1:37)