Cancer Killing Nanorobot

#Science

Fri, May 9th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Recode's James Temple brings to attention the work being done by Shawn Douglas (clearly a nerd extraordinaire judging by his cool yet functional 8-bit website) using synthetic biology. To be clear, these nanorobots aren't miniature mechanical robots, but little strands of DNA created much the same way one creates a computer program.

The software rendering in question actually represents coiled strands of DNA, nearly 200 of them twisted into just the right shape and texture to latch onto certain types of cells. Antigens on the surface that signal the cells are cancerous act as a kind of key that unlocks the structure, flipping it open like a clam shell and unleashing a drug that can bind with the aggressor cells and instruct them to self-destruct.

The promise is a highly targeted method of drug delivery, precision guided missiles that leave healthy cells alone — as opposed to the kill-everything-cluster-bombs of chemotherapy.

And here’s the interesting part: Douglas and his peers have actually produced the nanorobots and they appear to work. At least in cell culture flasks.

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