“DNA Nanorobots” Have Successfully Been Used for Cancer Treatment

Author: Usman Zafar Paracha
Published: February 19, 2012 at 5:43 am

Image: Programmable DNA nanobot (Credit: Wyss Institute)Scientists throughout the world are working to develop novel and potent therapeutic strategies for cancer and in this field scientists including Shawn Douglas of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and collaborators have successfully treated the cancer with the help of “DNA nanorobots”.

Scientists have developed nanorobots having the ability to transport payloads such as drug molecules and antibodies to specific cells of the body. They used the method of “DNA origami” to develop the containers with folded DNA chains. Aptamers were used to lock the barrel shaped robot and to recognize the specific cell types. Scientists mimic the white blood cells for the robots.

"We can finally integrate sensing and logical computing functions via complex, yet predictable, nanostructures — some of the first hybrids of structural DNA, antibodies, aptamers and metal atomic clusters — aimed at useful, very specific targeting of human cancers and T-cells," said George Church, Ph.D., a Wyss core faculty member and Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, who is Principal Investigator on the project.

Researchers used these robots in different cultures of cancerous cells such as leukemia and lymphoma and found that the unlocking of the robots occurred on contact with the cancer cell proteins leading to the release of antibodies stopping the growth of cells. Although the robots caused some problems of toxicity but those problems were less than most of the chemicals and materials would have.

Researchers are of the opinion that due to the aptamers’ ability to identify proteins responsible for different diseases, this method can be used in a number of diseases.

This research has been published in the journal Science.

Further Reading:

Wyss Institute


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Article Author: Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha has been blogging in science and technology for more than 6 years. He is CEO of SayPeople.com. Email: uzparacha@yahoo.com Twitter: @jeepakistan

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