A study by Harvard Medical School’s Wyss Institute researchers could revolutionize the fight against deadly diseases. Robotics technology is evolving fast, and so are the potential uses of robots. The Harvard researchers are working on leveraging microscopic robots (nanorobots), made out of DNA, to help fight against deadly diseases such as cancer. Through a technique known as “DNA origami,” the microscopic robots are created out of DNA strands “folded” into shapes capable of carrying cancer fighting drugs. The project is led by Dr. Shawn Douglas, a technology fellow at Harvard Medical School’s Wyss Institute, and his partner Ido Bachelet.
The researchers are developing nanostructures created out of DNA, antibodies and metal atomic clusters that will up the ante in the fight against cancerous cells. The cutting edge technology allows the researchers to integrate sensing and logical computing functions through sophisticated but predictable nanostructures. The robots are handy in specific, disease-targeting treatment, for instance human cancers and T-cells. The prototype microscopic robot is hexagon-shaped and can deliver drugs across the body.
In test runs, the prototype microscopic DNA robots were able to track and kill lymphoma and leukemia cells placed in a petri dish. However, the project is still far from completion. For instance, a human would need several trillion such microscopic robots to treat any targeted illness. Nonetheless, the study carries enormous potential in cancer management and treatment. Researchers at a Canadian university last year similarly used nanoparticles to target cancer using a tiny remote-controlled magnetic sphere to deliver cancer-fighting drugs directly to where they need to go.