Killing cancer cells ….Terminator-style
Researchers are more and more relying on nanotechnology to develop new strategies in the fight against cancer, but one such technique under experimentation at North Carolina State University (NCSU) takes its cue directly from Hollywood. The NCSU scientists have produced “Nano-Terminators” which are liquid metal particles that specifically attack tumour cells. The procedure starts with gallium indium alloy, a liquid metal the group have previously shown capable of changing its shape through changes in its surface tension. In this study, the team combined the metal alloy with 2 kinds of ligand molecules and used ultrasound to split the liquid metal into small 100nm beads which then bound to the two types of ligands. An oxidised layer of metal formed around the liquid metal beads preventing them from binding back together again. Following this, doxorubicin, a drug used in cancer therapy, was then blended into the mixture. One of the ligand molecule types attached to the cancer medicine, while the other ligand was responsible for pinpointing the tumour cells so that its toxic contents can be delivered to the intended target. Using mice that develop cancer, the group demonstrated that the Nano-Terminators were taken in by their malignant tumours cells and were disrupted by the acidity inside the cells. This resulted in the discharge of the doxorubicin, killing the malignant tumours cells with little or no collateral toxicity. Arnold would be so proud!