Robots to cure leukaemia? Microscopic nano-bots could be injected into veins in FIVE years

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Robots to cure leukaemia? Microscopic nano-bots could be injected into veins in FIVE years

Robots to cure leukaemia? Microscopic nano-bots could be injected into veins in FIVE years
TINY machines will soon be using our veins and vessels as a motorway controlled by powerful magnets to infiltrate every corner of our bodies.
By Rebecca Flood
PUBLISHED: 15:20, Mon, Jul 31, 2017 | UPDATED: 15:23, Mon, Jul 31, 2017

nanobot-cancer-leikaemia-cureGETTY
China’s Harbin Institute of Technology has perfected tiny machines to enter our bloodstream

Astonishing research may have just led to the unleashing of cancer-killing nano-bots in our systems.

China’s Harbin Institute of Technology has perfected tiny machines to enter our bloodstreams and other hard-to-reach places including the retina.

Researchers believe the nano-bots could minimise the need for invasive surgery and administer medicine from inside our veins.

The breakthrough has been touted as the ‘next generation’ in healthcare, and work is being done on creating biodegradable nano-bots which simply dissolve in the system.
Common types of childhood cancer
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Children’s cancer: The 10 most common types of childhood cancer.

Play slideshow
Leukaemia 31% – This cancer of the blood is the most common type of childhood cancer
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۱ of 10

Leukaemia 31% – This cancer of the blood is the most common type of childhood cancer

Leukaemia 31% – This cancer of the blood is the most common type of childhood cancer
Brain and spinal tumours 26% – Central nervous system (CNS) tumours as the most common solid tumours found in children and account for more than a third of all childhood cancer deaths
Lymphoma 10% – This cancer starts in the lymphatic system. There are two main types found in children – Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Soft tissue sarcomas 7% – Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common type of soft tissue sarcoma. It can be found in any part of the body but is most common in the head and neck
Neuroblastoma 6% – The second most common solid tumour is Neuroblastoma, a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), most often occurring in the abdomen
Renal Tumours 5% – Approximately 90 children are diagnosed with renal (Kidney) tumours in the UK every year. The most common type is Wilms’ tumour which usually affects the under fives
Bone tumours 4% – There are two main types of bone tumour found in children – Osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma. The survival rate is among the lowest of all the childhood cancers

Swimming at 10 micrometers per second, the team discovered a front crawl type stroke was the most effective.

Magnetic arms propel the bots forward as a magnetic field controls their direction.

The bots were challenged to swim in more viscous liquid than water, mimicking a variety of body fluids.

nanobot-cancer-leikaemia-cureGETTY
Previous research has showed nano-bots producing phenomenal results when tackling leukaemia

Preparing the tiny warriors for the inside of the human body, the machines were still able to swim but their pace was halved to around 5.5 micrometers per second.

Eric Diller, a microbot researcher at the University of Toronto, said: “It’s exciting due to its speed and its really small size, just about the same size as a blood vessel.

“It’s small enough basically to go anywhere within the body.”

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It’s small enough basically to go anywhere within the body

Eric Diller

Human trials could be seen in five years, he said.

Previous research has showed nano-bots producing phenomenal results when tackling deadly disease leukaemia, a cancer of the blood.

Shawn Douglas, from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute, created nano-bots using ‘DNA origami’.

nanobot-cancer-leikaemia-cureGETTY
Swimming at 10 micrometers per second, the team discovered a front crawl type stroke was best

They were designed in a clam-like shape devised to hold a dose of medicine inside.

The ‘clam’ only opened when it found its target by creating two locks on the nano-bot which was controlled by DNA.

Mr Douglas’ team programmed the bots to only unlock when they came into contact with molecules found on leukaemia cells.
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They filled the clam with a cell-killing arsenal which wipes out the cancerous cells by interfering with its growth cycle.

Then they released thousands of the microscopic clam bots into human blood mixed with healthy and cancerous cells.

When they checked three days later, remarkably they found half the leukaemia cells and been destroyed but none of the healthy ones were harmed.

nanobot-cancer-leikaemia-cureGETTY
The breakthrough has been touted as the ‘next generation’ in healthcare

Mr Douglas theorised that equipping the clams with additional weapons, they could take out every last cancerous cell.

This new type of technology could be so advanced and effective it would leave rapidly developing calls alone – such as hair follicles – which suffer during other types of cancer treatment.

Jørgen Kjems at Aarhus University in Denmark, noted: “The next step will be to ensure the DNA nanorobot can withstand the destructive environment of living organisms
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“Once this has been accomplished, there’s promise that scientists can create new and more effective medicines for animals and humans.”

Despite the study being conducted several years ago, the last hurdle is ensuring the nano-bots can survive inside humans – what China’s new research is a step away from achieving.
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