Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Nanotechnology applied to repairing/killing cancer cells

Posted by Charles II on February 16, 2012

Elizabeth Lopatto, Bloomberg:

Scientists have created a robot made entirely from DNA that can be instructed to find diseased cells in the body and deliver a payload to kill or reprogram them, according to a study from Harvard University.

The robot was constructed by folding DNA strands into a shape that looks roughly like a clamshell. The researchers programmed the nano-sized device to open in the presence of leukemia and lymphoma cells in a laboratory dish, where they delivered immune system antibodies that caused the cells to self-destruct, according to a report in the journal Science.

Besides cancer, the robots may also benefit people with autoimmune disease, Douglas said. One day, the robots might be used to find immune cells wrongly attacking the body and reprogram them, he said.

As I read Bloomberg, the DNA is useful because it unzips when it comes in contact with a target. So, the technique is not unique to DNA. But DNA synthesis is well-established and easy to tailor to protein targets.


3 Responses to “Nanotechnology applied to repairing/killing cancer cells”

  1. shrimplate said

    I have to wonder if Watson, Crick, Wilkins, and Franklin would ever have dreamed of such an idea.

    Charles, you left me a wonderful link a few weeks back after you wrote that “A dime is a fortune.” I’ll be so stealing that and using it to analogize the benefit of small kindnesses. Such as the consideration you have always directed towards me even though I sometimes write things that run quite counter to your beliefs. People who have had lives such as mine maintain deep respect for others who show these small kindnesses, the sort of which were often scarce in my life as well as the lives of way too many of us all.

    It’s a pleasure to read your writings, too of course, not just your south-of-the-borders news and analyses.

    “Easy to tailor.” Yes and what an amazing thing for humankind. But first you have to create 11-dimensional M-Branes and pop a Milky Way galaxy in there someplace. ;)

    • Charles II said

      Well, I know whose letter of reference I will be handing to St. Peter, shrimplate. Assuming there is a St. Peter, a heaven, and Pearly Gates to walk through. :-)

      But yours is the real kindness, sharing your life, the bitter with the sweet. As you say, stories similar to that bitter are all too common, much more common than the average civilian realizes. I’m both fortunate and grateful to have been spared, which obliges me to volunteer for triage duty when called.

      Whenever you write of the kind things you do in your profession, I know that our beliefs are not different. In fact, yours are better, because you are doing them without thought of reward. I spent part of yesterday morning explaining to friends that John actually meant it when he said, “If you know that he [Jesus] is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.” He doesn’t say you have to be baptized. He doesn’t say you have to believe in a particular birth narrative or profess to understand the Triune ousia. He has a simple, quiet confidence that every person who does right is a child of God. Which, of course, leaves many professing Christians on the foster adoption list. But I digress.

      For our other readers, this is why a dime is a fortune. And this is what I was responding to.

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