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

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