Motorized molecules driven by light have been used to drill holes in the membranes of individual cells and show promise for either bringing therapeutic agents into the cells or directly inducing the cells to die. Scientists have come up with nanomachines that specifically target and drill into cancer cells, eliminating them within 60 seconds.
Researchers at Rice, Durham and North Carolina State universities demonstrated in lab tests how rotors in single-molecule nanomachines can be activated by ultraviolet light to spin at 2 to 3 million rotations per second and open membranes in cells.
Durham University tested these nanomachines and the results demonstrated that, on average, they tore through the outer membrane of prostate cancer cells within one to three minutes, resulting in their extermination.
The nanomachine’s motor consists of rotor-like links of atoms that can be instructed to head into a direction so that the molecule spirals at incredibly high speeds.
These nanomachines would have many uses, including the ability to burrow inside cells and discharging therapeutic agents, but can be used as effective weapons against tumour membranes and other malignant agents.