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Scientists develop nanomachines capable of killing cancer cells in a minute

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A breakthrough against cancerous strains that are resistant to radiation or chemotherapy

Microscopic robots which can drill through the cell walls of cancerous tumors are in development and their effectiveness is jaw-dropping. In a matter of minutes they can tear cancerous cells to shreds using a rotor-like chain of atoms that can be prompted to move in one direction, causing the molecule to rotate at high speed.

The UK Telegraph reports that the robots can identify cancerous cells and are activated by doctor-guided light. Since the targeting is so precise, the process is expected to be effective against cancerous strains that are resistant to radiation or chemotherapy. The key to the process is found in the extremely high speeds needed for the “drills” to spin.

They found that the nanomachines needed to spin at two to three million times per second to overcome nearby obstacles and outpace natural Brownian motion, the erratic movement of microscopic particles suspended in fluid.

The molecules could be used either to tunnel into cells carrying therapeutic agents, or to act as killer weapons that blast open tumour membranes.

The above video contains images of the tiny bots in action. If you look closely you can just make out the tiny holes made in the cell before it falls apart. In the video Dr James Tour, a member of the international team from Rice University in Houston, US, says

“These nanomachines are so small that we could park 50,000 of them across the diameter of a human hair, yet they have the targeting and actuating components combined in that diminutive package to make molecular machines a reality for treating disease.

“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.

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