Significant progress has been made in the field of nano-medicine and is about cancer. American and Chinese scientists created the first nanotubes planned to detect tumors in the body, cut the flow of blood into them and thus shrink them or even eliminate them altogether.
The nanotubes have been successfully tested in mice and pigs with breast, lung, ovarian and melanoma skin cancer and will follow clinical trials in humans.
Researchers at the Arizona State University and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, led by Molecular Sciences Professor Hao Yan, published the biotech journal Nature Biotechnology.
“We developed the first fully autonomous robotic DNA system for targeted cancer treatment. This technology can be used in many types of cancer, as the blood vessels that supply solid tumors are virtually all the same, “said Jan.
The major challenge of neo-medicine is the use of healing biological or synthetic nanomachines that will traverse the body without damaging healthy cells. The new method employs a nanobot to transport therapeutic molecules to the tumor area where they manage to block blood flow to them.
Each nanobot consists of a rectangular DNA plane, measuring 60 to 90 nanometers (billionths of a meter). A key enzyme, thrombin, is attached to the surface of the nanobot, and another substance that instructs the nanobot to attack only cancer cells rather than healthy ones. Many nanobots together encircle the cancerous tumor and release the specific enzyme on it.
Thrombin can clog the bloodstream to the tumor, creating a thrombus in the blood vessels that feed it. This causes a type of mini-infarction, resulting in tumor destruction. Tumor shrinkage or disappearance treatment occurs within 24 hours and does not appear to affect healthy tissues. Then most of the nanotubes decompose and get rid of the body within another 24 hours.
In three of the eight experimental animals, nano-therapy led to complete tumor regression, with an average survival of more than twice as high from 20.5 to 45 days. In melanoma mice, treatment not only shrunk primary tumors, but also prevented metastases.
Animal experiments so far show that nanobots are safe and effective. There are also no signs of spreading into the brain, which would cause dangerous side effects such as stroke. The researchers said they were optimistic that not only the new treatment would have practical applications in the fight against cancer in the future but also that it could be adapted to other conditions.