ASU scientists are using nanorobots to shrink cancerous tumors

- Arizona State University scientists have figured out a way to fight cancer with tiny robots. 

This is a major advancement for the team for ASU scientists who have been working for five years to advance nanomedicine.

This new branch of medicine uses nanotechnology to diagnose and treat diseases such as cancer. Now their years of hard work has led to the creation of nanorobots.

"It's great to see that one day we can program molecules into robots and to do intelligent work t hat will be useful for the human society," said Hao Yan with ASU.

Yan and his team at ASU are working with Chinese researchers from the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST) to combat cancer.

These scientists created a DNA robotic system called nanorobots, which they've tested on mice.

"We tested four kinds of tumors using mouse models and two are human tumors. One is the human breast cancer, the other one a human lung cancer [tumor]. And for both of these human tumors tested on the mice models, we know there is a significant effect is regressing the tumor on the mice," Yan said.

So how does it work?

Each nanorobot is made with DNA materials, making it 90 by 60 nanometers in size. Inside the microscopic robot is a protein molecule called thrombin. Once injected, the nanorobot heads to the tumor site and that's when the protein is released.

"Gets opened up to release the protein, which causes the blood to clot and stop the nutrient supply to the tumor and shrink the tumor," Yan said.

Yan and his collaborators are now looking to further develop this technology.

"We want to work with biologists, clinicians, medical doctors to be able to pursue the common goal of applying nanotechnology for medical research," Yan said.

Yan says more work needs to be done before testing the nanorobots on humans, and that could take a few years.

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