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These DNA ‘Nanobots’ Could Help Kill Cancer By Choking Off Its Life Blood

The cancer treatment space has given way to some extraordinary advances in recent years, including therapies that can re-engineer your own cells to fight cancer. But, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, scientists may be on the cusp of yet another significant milestone—tiny little cancer-killing robots that choke off the blood supply to tumors.

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First things first: This study was done in mice, so there’s still a long ways to go before the nanobots come anywhere close to being deployed in humans. The tech, however, is fascinating; it involves recruiting engineered DNA bots to home in on cancerous cells to inject them with a deadly payload.

“Using tumor-bearing mouse models, we demonstrate that intravenously injected DNA nanorobots deliver thrombin specifically to tumor-associated blood vessels and induce intravascular thrombosis, resulting in tumor necrosis and inhibition of tumor growth,” said the study authors.

Translation: These little biological weapons were able to deliver a dose of lifeblood-blocking, clot-inducing medicine to mice with human breast cancer tumors. But perhaps the most significant part of the tech is its precision, at least in the mouse models: The programmed DNA bots avoided causing any clotting or harm to healthy cells.