Nanorobots Order Cancer Cells to Commit Suicide

Inspired by the body's own immune system, Harvard researchers have engineered a nanorobotic device that can deliver molecular instructions to cancer cells, ordering suicide.

What's the Latest Development?


Harvard researchers have created a nanorobot made of DNA strands that can deliver molecular messages to specific cells in the body, such as cancer cells, even ordering them to commit suicide. The robot is made of DNA in the shape of two half-barrels connected by a hinge. When the robot finds its target, the barrel opens and the molecular message stored inside is delivered to the harmful cell. Orders to commit suicide, encoded in anti-body fragments, have already been delivered to leukemia and lymphoma cells.  

What's the Big Idea?

The design of the nanomachine was inspired by the body's own immune system which uses white blood cells to patrol the body for abnormal cells, invading bacteria and viruses. While past attempts have released messages that respond to DNA or RNA, this newest nanobot responds to proteins, "which are more commonly found on cell surfaces and are largely responsible for transmembrane signaling in cells." The technique represents a targeted approach to beating cancer, rather than the broad sweep of current chemotherapy.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
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No, depression is not just a type of 'affluenza' – poor people in conflict zones are more likely candidates

Image: Our World in Data / CC BY
Strange Maps
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Banned books: 10 of the most-challenged books in America

America isn't immune to attempts to remove books from libraries and schools, here are ten frequent targets and why you ought to go check them out.

Nazis burn books on a huge bonfire of 'anti-German' literature in the Opernplatz, Berlin. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Culture & Religion
  • Even in America, books are frequently challenged and removed from schools and public libraries.
  • Every year, the American Library Association puts on Banned Books Week to draw attention to this fact.
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  • Some claimed 'Oumuamua was an alien technology, but there's no actual evidence for that.