Cancer-fighting ‘nanorobots’ could potentially prove effective in eradicating tumors, a new research has revealed.
For the first time, researchers were able to successfully program tiny machines in mammals, that would then target tumors and shrink them by cutting off their blood supply. These nanorobots are made from a flat, rectangular DNA origami sheet that is 90 nanometres by 60 nanometres in size.
Researchers claim that the tiny nano-fighters were successful in treating breast, lung, melanoma, and ovarian cancer in mice.
Once inside the body, the nanorobot would bind itself to the tumor blood vessel’s surface and release an enzyme called thrombin right in the heart of the tumor.
Thrombin can blood tumor blood flow by clotting the blood in the vessels that feed it. According to the study, the nanorobots would surround the tumor just hours after injection.
“We have developed the first fully autonomous, DNA robotic system for a very precise drug design and targeted cancer therapy,” said Hao Yan, Professor and Director at Arizona State University.
Researchers injected human cancer cells into a mouse to trigger tumor growth. They then injected the nanorobots to see how they perform.
The treatment was able to block blood supply to the tumor which in turn exposed the tumor to tissue damage within 24 hours. After the nanorobots did their job, they disintegrated without leaving a trace within another 24 hours.
In order for the nanorobots to know what to target, researchers included a DNA aptamer on their surface. The DNA aptamer could target a specific protein called nucleolin, which is produced in high amounts on the surface of tumor cells.
Lead scientist on the research Professor Yulian Zhao said that the tiny machines did not trigger blood coagulation or altered cell morphology in any other areas in the body.
The study was published in the journal, Nature Biotechnology.
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