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Chinese scientists lead team developing DNA nanorobots to ''starve'' tumors

Update:2018/3/5 8:50:02 Views:0

Chinese scientists say they have created and tested the world's first autonomous DNA nanorobots to combat cancerous tumors, paving the way for potentially revolutionary breakthroughs in the treatment of malignancies.

Scientists from the Beijing-based National Center for Nanoscience and Technology led the research and cooperated with scientists from Arizona State University in upgrading the design of the nanorobots. The scientific study was published last month in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

A nanorobot refers to a designed system that can perform a specific task on a microscopic scale.

According to researcher Ding Baoquan, the DNA-based nanorobot has a tube-shaped structure with a diameter of about 19 nanometers and a length of about 90 nanometers.

"It is about 5,000 times smaller than the tip of a needle," Ding said.

It can travel through the bloodstream searching for tumors. Once it detects a tumor, it will release a load of the blood coagulant agent thrombin directly into the cancerous growth to cut off its blood supply, thus causing the malignancy to "starve" to death.

The DNA nanorobot is a biocompatible and biodegradable material and safely leaves the body after it has finished its task.

Nanotechnology has provided new opportunities for the medical industry. The research was started five years ago, when researchers at the center first looked at cutting off a tumor's blood supply by using DNA-based nanocarriers.

Ding said although the concept of nanorobots for medical use had previously been introduced with experiments conducted in test tubes, this is the first time that experiments have been conducted in living organisms within sophisticated and often uncontrollable biological environments.

The research evaluated the nanorobots in mice with tumors. The DNA nanorobots were injected into mice, and the results showed significant tumor shrinkage-and often complete tumor regression-within days or weeks.

According to scientist Zhao Yuliang, the team also conducted extensive safety studies of the nanorobots in two different mammals, including the Bama miniature pig, which is physiologically and anatomically similar to humans.

"Unlike chemotherapy and radiation, the DNA nanorobots are able to treat tumors without harming surrounding healthy tissue. The nanorobots do not accumulate in the brain so do not pose stroke risks," Zhao said.

Nie Guangjun, also part of the team, believes this is a milestone in cancer research, a field that has been striving for decades to develop effective therapies.

"Our research shows that DNA-based nanocarriers have been shown to be an effective and safe cancer therapy," Nie said.

"We're working with a biotech firm to do preclinical studies and hope to translate this revolutionary technology into a viable anti-tumor therapy."

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