Published On: Tue, Aug 30th, 2016

Robots join fight against cancer

robots-and-cancer-cellsResearchers from Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal and McGill University have just achieved a spectacular breakthrough in cancer research.

They have developed new nanorobotic agents capable of navigating through the bloodstream to administer a drug with precision by specifically targeting the active cancerous cells of tumours.

This way of injecting medication ensures the optimal targeting of a tumour and avoids jeopardising the integrity of organs and surrounding healthy tissues. As a result, the drug dosage that is highly toxic for the human organism could be significantly reduced.

This scientific breakthrough has just been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology in an article titled “Magneto-Aerotactic Bacteria Deliver Drug-Containing Nanoliposomes To Tumour Hypoxic Regions.”

The article notes the results of the research done on mice, which were successfully administered nanorobotic agents into colorectal tumours.

“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,” explains Professor Sylvain Martel, holder of the Canada research chair in medical nanorobotics and director of the Polytechnique Montréal Nanorobotics Laboratory, who heads the research team’s work.

“The drug’s propelling force was enough to travel efficiently and enter deep inside the tumours.”

When they enter a tumour, the nanorobotic agents can detect in a wholly autonomous fashion the oxygen-depleted tumour areas, known as hypoxic zones, and deliver the drug to them. This hypoxic zone is created by the substantial consumption of oxygen by rapidly proliferative tumour cells. Hypoxic zones are known to be resistant to most therapies, including radiotherapy.

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