Nanorobots can treat cancer: scientists tested new technology - ForumDaily
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Nanorobots can treat cancer: scientists tested new technology

When it comes to fighting the deadly brain cancer known as glioblastoma, the options are very limited. This prompted the Canadian research team to take a new approach. They injected carbon nanotubes into cancer cells and then crushed them by spinning the tubes using magnetic force. Treating mice reduced the size of the tumor and extended the lifespan of the rodents - researchers hope to see similar results in humans. Read more about the new approach to treatment told the publication New Atlas.

Photo: IStock

Glioblastoma tumors grow rapidly, invade brain tissue, and develop resistance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, making them difficult to control. Also, any cancer cells that are left behind after treatment tend to come back with a vengeance, although efforts are being made to prevent this from happening.

Building on previous work, researchers at the University of Toronto's Robotics Institute and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) filled carbon nanotubes with iron oxide particles to make them magnetic. They then coated them with an antibody that allowed the tubes to bind to a protein on the outside of glioblastoma cells. Once bound, the tubes were taken up by the cancer cells.

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Then, by activating a magnetic field near the cancer cells, the tubes were made to rotate, causing damage to the internal structure of the cells, especially their mitochondria, which mainly provide cellular energy. Essentially, the tubes acted like thousands of mini-scalpels that cut through cancer cells from the inside out.

In tests on mice, the researchers saw a significant reduction in tumor size. They also succeeded in increasing the average lifespan of rodents from about 22 to 27 days.

“Through the use of nanotechnology deep within cancer cells, mechanical nanosurgery represents a Trojan horse approach that could allow us to destroy tumor cells from the inside out,” said study co-author Xi Huang, senior researcher in the Department of Developmental Biology and Stem Cells at SickKids.

Now this process needs fine-tuning before it can be tested in humans, but any new developments in the field of glioblastoma treatment, such as diet-based self-destruction of cancer cells, are welcomed by everyone who has ever been affected by the disease.

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Although it was designed specifically to target glioblastoma, Huang says the new nanorobot technique could be adapted to work with other types of tumors.

“Theoretically, by changing the antibody coating and redirecting the nanotubes to the desired tumor site, we could potentially have the means to accurately kill tumor cells in other types of cancer,” he said.

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