Nanomachines which can drill into cancer cells, killing them in just 60 seconds, have been developed by scientists.
In one test conducted at Durham University the nanomachines took between one and three minutes to break through the outer membrane of prostate cancer cell, killing it instantly.
Dr Robert Pal of Durham University said: “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.”Once developed, this approach could provide a potential step change in non-invasive cancer treatment and greatly improve survival rates and patient welfare globally.
Motorised molecules that target diseased cells may deliver drugs or kill the cells by drilling into the cell membranes. The scientists, whose work is reported in the journal Nature, created several different light-activated motorised molecules designed to home in on specific cells. The molecules could be used either to tunnel into cells carrying therapeutic agents, or to act as killer weapons that blast open tumour membranes.
“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.”For many years I never had envisioned the nanomachines being used medically, I though 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.