Drilling for Cancer

We’re taking aim at cancer – literally!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Cancer may be hard to defeat, but it’s not invincible. Most cancer fighting drugs can kill cancer, but healthy cells often become collateral damage. Could there be a solution with more precise aim?

Enter a multinational research team led by James Tour of Rice University. Tour’s group develops the tiniest of machines: molecular machines! And they can make their machines do different things. Like when they’re hit with UV light, the molecules spin super-fast like a drill!

Within sixty seconds, these molecular drills can blast through a cell, completely destroying it! Now, the tricky part: more precise aim. The team equipped the nano-drills with a special protein that only sticks to cancer cells. So they completely AVOID healthy cells. They KNOW how to find their cancer cell targets!

So far, they’ve only killed cancer in Petri dishes. But they’ve started tests on fish. The researchers hope to spin their nano-drills for use in humans in the near future.

Bullseye for this innovation! Molecular drills one; cancer zero.