Nano-submarine to target infected cells with precision

January 16th, 2009 - 2:40 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 16 (IANS) Can you imagine a nano-sized submarine that targets and destroys infected cells anywhere within the human body with unerring precision? Now this concept of fixing faulty cells is closer to realisation, thanks to pioneering research done by Tel Aviv University (TAU) scientists. The blueprints for the ‘nanomarine’ were conceived by Dan Peer while at Harvard. It will now be built and test-run in human bodies, by the TAU team that he heads, engaged in cell research and immunology.

Made from biological materials, the real-life medical nanomarine’s fantastic voyage won’t have enough room for Raquel Welch, but the tiny structure will be big enough to deliver the payload: effective drugs to kill cancer cells and eradicate faulty proteins.

“Our lab is creating biological nano-machines,” said Peer. “These machines can target specific cells. In fact, we can target any protein that might be causing disease or disorder in the human body. This new invention treats the source, not the symptoms.”

While other researchers are working in the area of nano-medicine and drug delivery, Peer’s ‘nanomarine’ are among the first to combine a drug candidate with a drug delivery system, said a TAU release.

“We have tapped into the same ancient system the human body uses to protect itself from viruses,” said Peer, who is also investigating a number of topical applications for his medical subs. “And the beauty of it is the basic material of our nano-carriers is natural,” he said.

Their immediate focus is on blood, pancreatic, breast and brain cancers.

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