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Smart Drugs Attach to and Kill Just Cancer Cells February 18, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Uncategorized.

“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”1


Latticework unfolds to release payload molecule.2

They’re specific to just certain types, since the lattice holding the cancer drugs only spring open when they encounter certain selected proteins that the cancer cells make.  This is part of a study by Ido Bachelet, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, who says “We call it a nanorobot because it is capable of some robotic tasks.”  Once this package recognizes the correct protein, it unwraps itself when the aptamers bind to the proteins to which they have specific affinity releasing the drugs which then attack the cancer.

So, less of a robot and more of a mousetrap.  Still, that’s some impressive nanomanufacturing.  They used CadNano3 to design it, building in a dozen molecules of cancer-busting drug and two positions on the outside for the aptamers—and they tested it on different cancer types.  Six different cancer-cell types were put together and six different aptamer locks were tested against them.  Each payload attached to the cancer type it was aimed at, and no other (antibodies as it turns out, which stopped the cells from growing).

More remarkably still, these “devices” are able to be destroyed by the usual liver cleanup methods.  This means these devices can be administered to a diseased organ, where they dump the toxic or drug payload there, become empty and then are harmlessly cleaned up by natural bodily methods.

1William Gibson, right as usual…at least then.

2Image stolen from Campbell Strong, Shawn Douglas, & Gaël McGill using Molecular Maya & Cadnano

3See The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, which elaborates upon this technology somewhat.


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