Researchers from the Durham university may have developed a groundbreaking breakthrough--killing cancer cells in just about 60 seconds!
They started with designing several different light-activated motorised molecules for specific cells. From that, they found that nanomachines, which can drill into cancer cells, only needs to spin at two to three million times per second for one to three minutes to break through any nearby obstacles.
Driven by light, these tiny spinning molecules are so fast that they can easily burrow their way through cell linings when activated. Specifically, their erratic movements were able to kill prostate cancer cell instantly!
"We are moving towards realising our ambition to be able to use light-activated nanomachines to target cancer cells such as those in breast tumours and skin melanomas, including those that are resistant to existing chemotherapy," said Dr Robert Pal of Durham University. “Once developed, this approach could provide a potential step change in non-invasive cancer treatment and greatly improve survival rates and patient welfare globally."
Its effectiveness lies on a rotor-like chain of atoms that moves at high speed once pressed on to moving in a certain singular direction. When not triggered by an ultraviolet, these "motor" molecules stay on the target cells' surfaces; but when prompted, they rapidly drill through its membranes. This can then kill the tumour or make a way for therapeutic agents to enter.
"In this study we have shown that we can drill into cells, animal cells, human cells using these nanomachines, they will attach to the surface and then a light will be shone upon them and they will drill right into the cell," said Dr James Tour, a member of the international team from Rice University in Houston, US.
"For many years I never had envisioned the nanomachines being used medically, I thought they were way too small, because they are much much smaller than a cell, but now this work has really changed my thoughts on this and I think therapeutically this will be a whole new way to treat patients, it's going to be an excellent application for cancer treatment, not just for killing of cells but for the treatment of cells, interacting with the human body using molecular machines."
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