Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Nanorobots Seek and Destroy Tumors

Nanorobots Seek and Destroy Tumors

Within 48 hours, the nanorobots had held onto vascular cells at the tumour sites and cut off blood supply to the tumours. They are made out of organic materials and in this case, it's DNA.

In a major advancement in nanomedicine, Arizona State University (ASU) scientists, in collaboration with researchers from the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST), of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have successfully programmed nanorobots to shrink tumors by cutting off their blood supply.

Delivered by IV into mice with models of breast, lung, melanoma, and ovarian cancers, the nanorobots worked quickly, many locating and congregating around the tumor within 2 hours of injection. They then attached small bits of DNA created to specifically bind to molecules found in tumor cells which helps to guide these nanobots.

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What's Next For The Tumor-Killing Nanobots?

The authors designed the fasteners to dissociate when they bind nucleolin-a protein specific to the surface of tumor blood-vessel cells-at which point, the tube opens and exposes its cargo.Nanorobot design.

Nanorobots are so-called due to their tiny size and because they contain parts capable of movement within the body. The researchers attached parts of DNA found in tumor cells to the nanorobots, and once they come into contact with tumor cells, they attach and release their payload. He continued, "Moreover, this technology is a strategy that can be used for many types of cancer, since all solid tumor-feeding blood vessels are essentially the same". What's even more interesting, is that most of the nanorobots were cleared and discarded from the body within 24 hours after attacking the tumors. They then carried out a series of in vitro experiments to show that the thrombin-loaded nanorobots (nanorobot-Th) caused coagulation.

Robots one-thousandth the width of a human hair are now able to fight cancer by destroying tumours in the body.

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They also appeared to have no harmful side-effects when they were injected into Bama miniature pigs, which are roughly the size of an Airedale terrier but have a human-like physiology.

Each nanorobot is created from a flat, rectangular DNA origami sheet, just 90 nm by 60 nm in area, and just 2 nm thick.

The new report, "A DNA nanorobot functions as a cancer therapeutic in response to a molecular trigger in vivo", was published online this week in Nature Biotechnology. According to Guangjun Nie, one of the researchers on the project, "Our research shows that DNA-based nanocarriers have been shown to be an effective and safe cancer therapy".

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"I think we are much closer to real, practical medical applications of the technology", said Professor Yan.

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