March 4, 2024

Options are limited when it comes to fighting a deadly brain cancer called glioblastoma. This led the Canadian research team to take a novel approach. They coaxed cancer cells to absorb the carbon nanotubes, then used magnetic force to spin the carbon nanotubes to smash the cells. The discovery that the treatment in mice shrunk tumor size and extended the rodents’ lifespan led the researchers to hope for similar results in humans.

Glioblastomas grow rapidly, invade localized brain tissue, and develop resistance to chemotherapy and radiation, making them difficult to fight. Also, any remaining cancer cells tend to make a comeback, despite ongoing efforts to prevent this from happening.

Building on previous work, researchers at the University of Toronto’s Robotics Institute and the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) filled carbon nanotubes with iron oxide particles to make them magnetic. They then coated them with an antibody that made the tubes bind to a protein on the outside of the glioblastoma cells. After binding, the tubes are engulfed by cancer cells.

Next, by activating a magnetic field near the cancer cells, the tubes were made to spin, wreaking havoc on the cell’s inner structure — especially the mitochondria, which essentially provide the cell’s energy. In effect, the tubes act like thousands of mini scalpels, cutting through the cancer cells from the inside.

In tests using mice, the researchers saw a significant reduction in tumor size. They were also able to extend the average lifespan of the rodents from about 22 days to about 27 days.

“By using nanotechnology deep within cancer cells, mechanical nanosurgery is a ‘Trojan horse’ approach that allows us to destroy tumor cells from within,” said study co-author Xi Huang, a senior scientist in developmental and stem cell biology. The SickKids program.

The process now requires more fine-tuning before it can be tested in humans, but any new developments in the field of glioblastoma treatment, such as causing cancer cells to self-destruct based on diet, are welcome for anyone who has ever experienced it touched by disease.

Although developed specifically to help fight glioblastoma, Huang also said the new nanorobot technology could also be adapted for use in other types of tumors. “In theory, by altering the antibody coating and redirecting the nanotubes to the desired tumor site, we might have a way to precisely destroy tumor cells in other cancers,” he said.

This work has been published in the journal, scientific progress. You can learn more in the video below.

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Mechano-Nanosurgery Explained

source: sick child, University of Toronto