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Nanorobots used to administer anti-cancer drugs

By Tim Sandle     Aug 17, 2016 in Health
Technologists and medics have come together to devise nano-sized robots to deliver drugs accurately to different sites of infection within the human body. The main purpose is as a drug delivery system for anti-cancer medications.
Nanotechnology can provide sensitive detection of cancer-related targets. Nanotechnology also has the potential to generate unique and highly effective therapeutic agents. New research into nanotechnology is concerned with the delivery of drugs.
The method for delivering medication has been devised by Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal together with McGill University. This takes the form of nanorobotic agents that are capable of navigating through the bloodstream to administer a drug at the target of active cancerous cells of tumors. The advantage of doing this is not only for precision medicine it also avoids harming healthy cells and organs.
Digital Journal has featured such devices previously. In particular, we focused on injectable nanoparticles that enable the sequential passage of drugs through the various biological barriers. Here, by being carried within a nano-shell, Houston Methodist Research Institute scientists allowed for a chemotherapy drug to only activate once it had reached the cancer site.
The new innovation works differently and it is reliant upon bacteria to help propel the nanobot through body fluids, helped by the use of magnetic fields. Lead researcher Professor Sylvain Martel told Controlled Environments: “These legions of nanorobotic agents were actually composed of more than 100 million flagellated bacteria — and therefore self-propelled — and loaded with drugs that moved by taking the most direct path between the drug’s injection point and the area of the body to cure.”
To test out the nanobots, trials have taken place using mice, where medicines were delivered to colorectal tumors. Upon entering the tumor the nanobots can detect the most cancerous areas, which are oxygen depleted (hypoxic zones) and release the anti-cancer drug. These zones are generally very resistant to cancer treatment, including radiotherapy.
Once demonstrated in human subjects, researchers hope the nanobots will become suitable vehicles for various therapeutic, imaging and diagnostic agents.
The research has been published in Nature Nanotechnology in a paper headed: “Magneto-aerotactic bacteria deliver drug-containing nanoliposomes to tumor hypoxic regions.”
More about nanobots, Nanorobots, Cancer, Medicine
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