Cancer-fighting nano-robots programmed to seek and destroy tumours
15 February, 2018, 08:30 | Author: Hope Soto
In a major advancement in nanomedicine, an worldwide team of scientists has successfully programmednanorobots for the first time in mammals, that potentially shrinks tumours by cutting off their blood supply.
BAOQUAN DING AND HAO YANDNA nanorobots that travel the bloodstream, find tumors, and dispense a protein that causes blood clotting trigger the death of cancer cells in mice, according to a study published today (February 12) in Nature Biotechnology.
This demonstration, which marks a major step towards the implementation of nanobot drug delivery in medicine, could pave the way for delivering toxic chemotherapy drugs with reduced side effects, among a host of other uses. They work by getting programmed DNA to fold into itself like origami and then deploying it like a tiny machine, ready for action. When the nanorobot would come in with the tumor, the tube automatically would open and deliver the thrombin. "Moreover, this technology is a strategy that can be used for many types of cancer, since all solid tumour-feeding blood vessels are essentially the same". Further analyses showed that nanorobot administration led to blood vessel occlusion in the tumors within just 24 hours; by 48 hours there was advanced thrombosis, and by 72 hours dense thrombi were evident in all the tumor vessels.
The experiment showed that the nanorobots did not cause clotting anywhere else in the bodies of the mice.
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The structures are comprised of rolled-up DNA sheets packed with molecules of thrombin, a blood-clotting enzyme.
The DNA nanorobots have not yet been tested in humans, but they hold enormous potential as a safe and effective method for killing tumors and treating cancer.
"The nanorobot proved to be safe and immunologically inert for use in normal mice and, also in Bama miniature pigs, showing no detectable changes in normal blood coagulation or cell morphology", saidYuliang Zhao, also a professor at NCNST and lead scientist of the global collaborative team.
Life expectancy in treated mice was 45 days, compared to 20.5 days in non-treated mice.
The cancer treatment space has given way to some extraordinary advances in recent years, including therapies that can re-engineer your own cells to fight cancer. Now, some scientists there think they may be closing in on medical applications for the technology.
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