In case you had any doubts that we live in the future, scientists just created a medical device straight out of Star Trek or, depending on your view of autonomous DNA-splicing nanorobots, perhaps Black Mirror.
Arizona State University scientists, in collaboration with researchers from the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have successfully programmed nanorobots to shrink tumors by cutting off their blood supply. The team, led by Hao Yan, a specialist in the field of DNA origami, designed and built a fleet (flock? herd?) of nanorobots that seek and destroy cancerous tumors, while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
According to a press release, the team started working on the project five years ago. They were originally interested in using DNA-based nanocarriers to to cut off the blood supply to tumors, but thanks to Yan’s very specific set of skills, they ended up creating “a fully programmable robotic system, able to perform its mission entirely on its own.” The cool-but-freaky technology could be a massive breakthrough in cancer treatment.
In testing, the technology was successful against breast cancer, melanoma, ovarian, and lung cancer mouse models, and the researchers believe the success will continue because “all solid tumor-feeding blood vessels are essentially the same.” The first-of-its-kind study in mammals was published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.