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TECH: Bacteriobots
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New Cancer-Treating Invention
By Fanny Bates

BT 201809 Tech 02微型细菌机器人

多年以来,科学家尝试发明纳米机器人,它们可以游到我们的血管里,纠正DNA 错误,清除毒素,增强记忆能力,治疗例如癌症这样的绝症。尽管化疗在治疗癌症方面非常有效,但是健康细胞也会因此受损。多亏韩国全南国立大学的科学家和蒙特利尔犹太综合医院(JGH)的医生们,癌症患者现在有希望通过纳米机器人和微型细菌机器人杀死癌症细胞,保留健康细胞,从而获得治疗。

微型细菌机器人由全南大学研究人员发明,这是一种医用纳米机器人,由转基因细菌组成,能够快速识别并杀死癌症细胞。微型细菌机器人直径只有3 微米,能够在癌症细胞感染的人体组织和血液中自由移动,并附着在肿瘤表面。一旦锁定癌症细胞,微型细菌机器人将释放抗癌药物。但是现阶段,微型细菌机器人只对固体癌有效,例如乳腺癌和结直肠癌。蒙特利尔犹太总医院的Dr. Té Vuong 教授在全南大学的研究基础上,在微型细菌机器人上增加了检测和导向系统。这种新型的自驱动纳米机器人能够更加有效地渗透癌细胞。得益于这项发明,一些癌症患者已经康复。自我驱动能力是这项新发明的最大特点,这也使我们向预防癌症走近一步。该研究团队计划研发出更加强大的、能够诊断治疗更多疑难杂症的纳米机器人。

A bacteriobot is a medical nanorobot Bacteriobots are used to treat cancerFor many years, scientists have tried to invent medical nanorobots which would swim through our veins and keep us healthy. They would correct our DNA errors, remove toxins, extend our memory capacities and, eventually cure deadly diseases such as cancer. Even though some chemotherapy treatments are effective in treating cancer, they damage our healthy cells. Thanks to the group of scientists from the Chonnam National University in South Korea and doctors from JGH in Montreal, cancer patients can now have the opportunity to be treated with tiny, microscopic nanorobots or bacteriobots, which would seek out and destroy cancer cells leaving the healthy ones untouched.

Bacteriobots As Anti-Cancer Treatment

The term “bacteriobot“ was coined by the research team from CNU in South Korea, following the invention of a prototype nanorobot with the functions of a bacteria. The director of the research center, Park Jong-Oh, stated: Our medical nanorobot, named ‘Bacteriobot,’ has very high efficiency as an anti-cancer treatment by selectively attacking cancer cells. They consist of genetically modified bacteria and, once injected into the human bloodstream, they become attracted to substances and proteins which cause cancer cells to grow. Besides consisting of bacteria, they also have 3µm-sized microstructures with anticancer cells. These robots move inside the tissues or blood affected by cancer and push these microstructures onto the surface of tumors at the average speed of the 5µm/s. After successfully targeting the ill cells, it sprays them using anticancer drugs.

In the research study conducted by Korean scientists, these robots were tested in tumorous mice, using several substances with fluorescence and bioluminescence. They used two groups which were injected with bacteriorobots and the end results showed that the group with injected bacteriobots proved to be the most effective at targeting cancer cells. However, at this stage, they are only effective with solid cancer, such as breast or colorectal cancers. The team hopes to develop devices which would detect and prevent cancer cells from growing. "Our future plan is to develop medical microrobots or nanorobots capable of diagnosing and treating a lot of hard-to-treat illnesses through the convergence of medicine and engineering in our research."

BT 201809 Tech 03Developed By Doctors

Years which were spent for developing nanorobots which would be used for medical purposes are finally bearing fruit. Thanks to the progress made by a group of doctors at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, a group of cancer patients were the first to be treated with tumor-killing nanorobots. Dr. Té Vuong, director of the Segal Cancer Centre’s Radiation Oncology at JGH, used the earlier work of Korean scientists, but, at the same time, added more effective sensing and guidance systems to their bacteriobot. The newly developed, self-propelled bacteriobot are very small and they can penetrate cancer cells very easily, without any barrier. The researcher added that they “are very excited because there is a lot of promise for our patients and this will allow us to move to a new generation of treatment for cancer.”

In developing this experimental treatment, they wanted to make their patients feel much better than when receiving chemotherapy, without any side effects. They also wanted to protect the healthy cells from being destroyed. Cancerous tumors tend to suck all of the available oxygen from cells and tissues, so they have based their nanorobots to be attracted to low oxygen tissues. They would eventually function as microscopic robotic doctors. One of the things which differs these bacteriobots from those created by Korean scientists is that they are self-propelled and self-driven because they are driven by low oxygen cells. They can wiggle into the core of the tumor cells by themselves by applying external magnetic fields and using magnetic force. Radiation therapy damages healthy cells, and with these new findings, they would remain completely untouched.

The fact that a bacteriobot can guide itself to the carcinogenic cell and treat it without any navigation, brings this invention one step closer to preventing the development of diseased cells. Like a true nanodoctor, they autonomously detect tumors and bring the payload of cancer drugs to the right spot. The research team from JGH used Magnetococcus Marinus bacteria that have magnetosomes, which are the natural systems of navigation. They move along magnetic fields and find the diseased cells, which are usually resistant to most conventional therapies, like chemotherapy. The team concluded that their “future plan is to develop medical micro-robots or nanorobots capable of diagnosing and treating a lot of hard-to-treat illnesses through the convergence of medicine and engineering in our research.”

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