All that glitters is not gold. Sometimes it is cancer.
How about gold-plated cancer?
We can do that now, or more technically: gold nanoparticles infused with an antibody called cetuximab attach to growth factors (EGFR) expressed on the surface of some cancer cells. In other words, bind just the right antibodies to gold nanoparticles, inject them into tissue, and cancer cells will be covered with gold.
Ok, you get gold to stick to cancer cells like socks stick to a sweater pulled from a dryer. What a waste of money, right?
Well, no. First, although they’re not cheep, don’t go rushing to the gold exchange with jar filled with nano-gold-slush. You won’t get much for it there. The gold nanoparticles are spheres of gold less than 100 nanometers (nm) in diameter. To put the size in perspective, 100 nm is about 500 times smaller than the diameter of human hair.
Second, according to a paper released by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, you can zap the gold-targeted cancer cells with shortwave radiofrequency (RF) energy. “Exposure of cells to a noninvasive RF field produced nearly 100% cytotoxicity in cells treated with the cetuximab-conjugated gold nanoparticles, but significantly lower levels of cytotoxicity in the two control groups (P < 0.00012).” In other words, the cancer cells died, and the normal cells lived.
Shortwave RF penetrates deeply into the body with no adverse side effects, as long as you’re not entirely made of gold. Like putting a fork in the microwave oven, it kills the cancer cells by heating them up. Now in this study, it only worked with two types of cancer cells: ones for pancreatic and colorectal cancer (Panc-1 or Difi cells), but similar methods may be available for different cancers. In another study (How could gold save my life?), it was shown that the same method might also be used to detect breast cancer.
Thanks guys. Great work!
Video courtesy Kathryn Dean via YouTube.
See the soon-to-be-published science fiction novel Recruiting Angles for bio-nanotechnolgy in action.
How do you get a nano-robot to target and kill just cancer cells but leave healthy cells alone?
Think like a suicide bomber:
- Carry a concealed mass killing weapon like a bomb,
- Act and look like you belong,
- Get into the enemy’s site, and
- Blow it up.
Nanotechnology for medicine does not necessarily mean robotic machinery. On the nanometer scale, the mechanism is more like a virus and can better be characterized by bio-chemistry. A nano-scaled robot uses molecular keys (cell targeting ligands) and special polymers (diblock copolymers) instead of gears and cogs.
This video explains it best:
So what are the healing stones? They are theoretical first-aid nano-bot factories and delivery systems. See other “Healing Stone” articles for more information.
Of all the future technological breakthroughs noted on this site, I hope this one comes first.
See Recruiting Angles for nano-medicine in action.
Image and video from Frank Gu Research Group, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
I just got back from the doctor for a cybernetic implant tune-up. She got on my case for going beyond the six month recommended tune-up cycle. I also haven’t been taking the prescribed minerals the nano-factories need to spit out the little doctors.
What? You haven’t heard about little doctors? (Yes, this is fictional.) How about nanites? No? What century are you living in, the 21st? OK, I’ll explain. Here in the 23rd Century, little doctors or bio-nano-robots are microscopic biomechanical engines — some as small as a large molecule — injected into your bloodstream either by needle, by healing stones, or more commonly by cybernetic implants. The implants create the little doctors on an as-needed basis.
I’ll expand on this more in future posts, but in summary, they extend your natural healing systems, reinforce bone and muscular structures, and help fight against aging. Here’s an old but good vid about the early uses of nanotechnology and bio-nano-robots:
Oh, by the way. If you do get the implants, be sure to keep your virus protection up to date. The implants makes potential computer viruses more deadly than some biological viruses.
See Recruiting Angles for healing stones in action.
See Death Has No Shadow for for nanites gone wild.
Image from Metallurgy for Dummies.