Biotech Updates

DNA Robot Attacks Cancer Cells

February 24, 2012

DNA origami, a technique used by scientists to design structures from DNA, is now being used by experts to make devices that can seek out and destroy living cells like robots. Thus, the researchers have called them nanorobots. According to Ido Bachelet, one of the authors of the study from the Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts, once the nanorobot recognizes a cell, it will automatically alter its shape and deliver its cargo.

"You can think about it as a sort of combination lock," says Bachelet. "Only when both markers are in place, can the entire robot open." They tested different types of locks that have been designed to target various kinds of cancer cells in culture. Those that were designed to attack a leukemia cell exhibited the ability to select the cell from the mixture of cells then release the antibody that would stop the cells from growing.

The nanorobots were designed using a software called Cadnano. Since the nanorobots can be programmed to release their payload only when the target cell is in a certain disease state, then they have the specificity that is absent in other drug-delivery methods. The team is planning to test the nanorobots in mice soon.

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