Nanorobot successfully targets cancer cells

Nanorobot successfully targets cancer cells
Photo from Karolinska Institutet official website

A TEAM of researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have successfully developed nanorobots that can kill cancer cells in mice.

This study, published in Nature Nanotechnology, demonstrates the potential of nanotechnology in effective cancer treatment and research.

The innovative nanorobots contain a hidden weapon with a “kill switch” that only activates in the acidic microenvironment of a tumor, specifically targeting and killing cancer cells.

The nanorobot’s weapon -- a hexagonal nanopattern of peptides that can organize so-called death receptors on the surface of cells leading to cell death -- is hidden in a nanostructure built from DNA stored at a normal pH of 7.4.

Since cancer cells are usually surrounded by an acidic microenvironment, the weapon activates only when the pH drops to 6.5, targeting and killing cancer cells but not harming healthy cells.

A 70 percent reduction in tumor growth was observed when these innovative nanobots were injected into mice with breast cancer tumors, compared to mice that were given an inactive version of the nanorobot.

“We now need to investigate whether this works in more advanced cancer models that more closely resemble the real human disease,” Yang Wang, the study’s first author, said, emphasizing the need for further research before it can be tested on humans.

“We also need to find out what side effects the method has before it can be tested on humans,” he added.

The researchers also plan to study more ways to make the nanorobots more targeted by placing cancer-specific binding proteins or peptides on their surface. (Dana Gracielle P. Quirante, UP Tacloban intern)


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