There is an exciting new technology on the way as new nano-scale robots – built from DNA – seem set to become the carrier for precise and deadly cargoes of medication to unhealthy cells in the body. This idea has been a long-held ambition of those involved in medical nano-technology as experts envisage dispatching whole armies of molecular robot drug-carriers into bodies for the treatment individual diseased cells.
Harvard Medical School Wyss Institute technology fellow Shawn Douglas, alongside Professor George M Church ( Human Genome Project) and genetics research fellow Ido Bachelet are all working on the creation of d biology-inspired medical devices and have demonstrated that creating these fantastic new DNA nano-bots is very much a realistic proposition.
These three pioneering scientists put their heads together in the belief that by pooling their knowledge they might advance more quickly and so it proved. Respective expertise in immunology and building nano-structures ere combined to design a molecular robot that was capable of mimicking the human immune system in recognizing infected cells and activating the self-destruct buttons of the targets.
Back in 2009 there was created a nano-scale cube with lid dubbed DNA Origami. This was s a self-assembly device that it was soon realised would prove through sheer size to be too difficult for delivery to the necessary cells. However, Bachelet mused that the team should simply create a simpler structure that would be able to deliver correct antibodies to cell surfaces and thus ensure their demise as the cell walls got breached.
These amazing new nano-robots are made with a clam shell shape from DNA. During transport through the bloodstream they would be held shut with a special DNA lock designed to recognize specific types of cancer cell. When such carcinoma cells are discovered the robot carriers immediately spring open exposing the payload of antibodies and performing what for patients are completely safe surgical strikes against the offending areas.
When tested out these nano-bots succeeding in blowing up lymphoma and leukemia affected cells, while leaving good cells unharmed. One such test entailed the use of 100 billion nano-bots and the problem for those wishing to conduct testing on the large scale necessary will be the scaling up of nano-bot production to the trillions required for definitive results to be obtained.
Of course the problem inherent in journeying through human bloodstreams is the actions of bothy the liver and the kidneys. Modifications will be needed to stop these drug-carrying packets from being rejected, but once achieved should enable such treatments to become universally applicable to many types of cancer.
Medical professionals have long been speculating about robots small enough to go through the bloodstream safely on entering the body. This would be good because they could then target places in the body where they were needed. These new creations are hopefully proof positive that this might one day truly become a reality.
Image via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanomedicine#mediaviewer/File:Liposome.jpg
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