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Will nanorobots provide a cure for cancer?

Monday, April 7, 2014
Science and Society

Earlier this year, researchers from Chonnam National University of Gwangju, South Korea reported that they had created a nanorobot that is capable of delivering cancer treatment to targeted tumours. A nanorobot ranges in size from 0.1 nanometre to 100 nanometres. A nanometre is one billionth of a metre. This nanorobot or “Bacteriobot”, as it is called, is a genetically modified non-toxic salmonella bacteria. 


It is attracted to the chemicals released by cancer cells, going directly to the tumours and releases the medication stored within; thereby providing directed treatment. This represents significant improvement over the traditional treatments of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which impact both healthy and cancerous cells and tissues.  



This new technique has been tested on mice and has been shown to target breast and colorectal cancers. Extensive clinical trials are a prerequisite before it can be approved for human use. As the technology has been patented in the USA, Europe and Japan, one expects the testing to move into the clinical phase in the not too distant future. Using DNA-based nanorobots to treat illnesses, including cancer, is being actively researched by several universities and institutions worldwide.