DNA Nanobots Precisely Target And Shrink Tumors, Without Any Side Effects

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Each nanobot consists of a rectangular DNA plane, measuring 60 to 90 nanometers (billionths of a meter).

"We have developed the first fully autonomous, DNA robotic system for a very precise drug design and targeted cancer therapy", Hao Yan, director of the ASU Biodesign Institute's Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics, declared in a statement. In these animals, nanorobot therapy still significantly prolonged survival, and while the results were "not as remarkable" as in the melanoma model, they did "nonetheless show that limited tumor permeability does not prevent the nanorobot from exerting antitumor activity", the team comments. That sheet was then loaded with an enzyme called thrombin - a chemical that can clot blood - and the sheet was then rolled into a tube, with the thrombin kept protected inside. "It's a combination of diagnosing the biomarkers on the surface of the cancer itself and also, upon recognizing that, delivering the specific drug to be able to treat it". Within 3 days, the team observed advanced thrombosis in all the examples, even though the nanobots themselves were typically cleared from the bloodstream within 24 hours.

Delivered by IV into mice with models of breast, lung, melanoma, and ovarian cancers, the nanorobots worked quickly, many locating and congregating around the tumor within 2 hours of injection.

The research comes after a team of scientists, involving Durham University, past year created nanorobots able to drill into and destroy cancer cells.

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Particularly encouraging therapeutic results were generated in a mouse model that faithfully mirrors the clinical course of human lung cancer. Imaging and tumor-staining studies showed that after treatment the tumor regions were "riddled with intratumoral spaces", which indicated that tumor growth was retarded.

They also appeared to have no harmful side-effects when they were injected into Bama miniature pigs, which are roughly the size of an Airedale terrier but have a human-like physiology. Once coagulation occurs and blood flow has been cut off to the tumor, it shrinks. The researchers attached parts of DNA found in tumor cells to the nanorobots, and once they come into contact with tumor cells, they attach and release their payload.

'This is the first time that DNA molecules have been manipulated to deliver drugs in this way - a fascinating advance that, if refined and proven effective in humans, could have far-reaching implications for treating cancer and other diseases'. In a primary mouse lung cancer model, tumor shrinkage was observed after 2 weeks. They are now looking for partners to develop the technology for clinical applications.

"I think we are much closer to real, practical medical applications of the technology", said Professor Yan.

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