DNA Origami Fights Cancer. I KNEW I Should Have Paid Attention in Third Grade Art Class!

dncWell it’s not the grey-goo apocalypse that we’ve all been waiting for, but scientists have finally started human trials of a DNA nanobot that targets cancer cells.  A few years ago, some Caltech eggheads figured out how to fold DNA into interesting shapes like block letters and smiley faces.  This is what happens when we stop teaching cursive in elementary school.

Researchers at the Wyss Institute at Harvard, however, have graduated from graffiti to the next big medical breakthrough.  They used the ancient art of Origami (pronounced: “Oh-dee-gah-mee”. Also acceptable: “that swan thing my grandmother does before her crossword”) to create DNA “clamshells” that seek out cancer cells in the body, open up like the Ark of the Covenant, and deliver a payload of death to the target cells.  Much like clams in white wine sauce do to my bowels.

According to PC Magazine, the nanobots use a type of molecular strand called an “aptamer” to seek out cancer or other cell types.  Sounds a bit like those adorable beagle dogs the TSA uses to sniff out drugs in your carry-on. Hopefully they can’t be fooled as easily with bacon (not that I would know this).

The nanobots can be configured to carry antibodies and other cancer-fighting drugs; once they lock onto a target cell, they release the drug, avoiding damage to surrounding healthy tissues.  If human trials are successful, this could be a revolution in Cancer therapy.  Imagine a Bronze Age battle between Sparta and the forces of Persia … now give one side Marine snipers.

Game over, man!  It’s Game Over!

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