Nanomachines might help to cure cancer
Hi everyone :)
About 14 million people per year receive the diagnosis of cancer. Over a half of them will die because of this uncontrolled growth of tissue. A horrible number and a horrible reality for too many people. Fortunately, science is improving and doctors were able to cure more cases due to radiotherapy or chemotherapy. The problem with these methods are often negative side-effects. New approaches are tested worldwide and one of them is to cure cancer with nanorobots.
Marinus bacteria vs cancer
Researchers from Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal and McGill University used a strain of marinus bacteria equiped with magnetic iron-oxide nanocrystals. The bacteria known as MC-1 tend to swim along local magnetic fields as they follow kind of a compass created by the synthesis of a chain of magnetic nanoparticles and swim towards hypoxic concentrations. Hypoxic concentrations are low-oxygen concentrations which we find in a tumor because of the rapid spread of the cells. They are often resistent against many drugs and also radiotherapy. The nanomachines detect the zones by first following a computer-controlled electric field leading them to the tumor region and then using a "sensor" to detect the tumor cells. The bacteria then inserts the drug and kills tumor cells.
Drilling into the cell
Another approach is to drill into cancer cells to destroy them.
The image fits because the drilling molecule is way smaller than the surface like the drill here is compared to the ground. The two people securing the machine plus the stabilisators are also important if we want to drill on a molecular level. Just change the helmet to an stethoscope and the stabilisators to the arms of the stator, mentioned below.
Researchers at Durham University in the UK and North Carolina State use the rotation of a single-molecule nanomachine, about one-billionth of a meter wide, to target disease cells and drill into them. The rotation of the machine lays in between 2-3 million rotations per second (!). UV-light can activate the paddle-like rotor, consisting of a series of three rings of carbon atoms, while the machine is hold in place from a stator with arms of carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, so it stays on the surface of the cell membrane. Using this method, at least one minute is necessary to tunnel through the membrane, according to the research team. A test on human prostata cancer cells was successfully executed an recorded, showing the mechanism after being activated by light (picture below).
On the right the cytoplasma leaks out the prostate cell as it is attack of the drilling nano machines.
of these methods are targeting breast tumors and melanomas that resist existing chemotherapy and reducing the amount and boosting the effectiveness of drugs used for a cancer cure. Avoiding the side-effects a chemotherapy has for the human body can be achieved as the nano robots only damage specific cells and not the entire human body, reducing collateral damage. Future could maybe bring us the ability to repair cells or nano robots to patrol through our body to detect toxic substances or diseases and immediately destroying them. On the other hand, we should always consider what kind of nano particles we want to have in our body and avoid the abuse of the technology by for example turning them into human body killer cells due to radiation from the outside. Although, this idea of an eventual abuse might be a bit exaggerated, some sketicism is always appropriate, but in this case, the positive use and the hope for millions of people to defeat cancer should support the research of scientists around the globe.
Hope you enjoyed the article and have a nice day :)