Scientists are developing “nanomachines” that can penetrate and kill cancer cells

A research team from the Korean Institute of Science and Technology has developed “nanomachines” that use mechanical molecular motions to penetrate and destroy cells. Selective penetration of cancer cells is also possible by using a fixing molecule released near cancer cells.

Researchers have created “nanomachines” that use mechanical molecular motions to enter and destroy cells.

Cancer is a condition in which some cells in the body grow out of control and spread to other parts of the body. Cancer cells divide continuously, causing them to invade surrounding tissues and form solid tumors. Most cancer treatments involve killing cancer cells.

It is estimated that by 2020, 1.8 million new cancers have been diagnosed in the United States and 600,000 people have died from the condition. Breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer are the most common cancers. The average age of a cancer patient at diagnosis is 66, and people between the ages of 65 and 74 account for 25% of all new cancer diagnoses.

Proteins are involved in every biological process and use energy in the body to change their structure through mechanical movements. They are called biological “nanomachines” because even minor structural changes in proteins have a significant impact on biological processes. To apply the movement in the cellular environment, researchers have focused on developing nanomachines that mimic proteins. However, cells use different mechanisms to protect themselves from the effects of these nanomachines. This limits any relevant mechanical movement of nanomachines that could be used for medical purposes.

The research team, led by Dr. Youngdo Jeong of the Center for Advanced Biomolecular Recognition at the Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), announced the development of a new biochemical nanomachine that penetrates the cell membrane and kills cells through molecular folding and folding movements. in certain cellular media, such as cancer cells. They collaborated with the teams of Professor Sang Kyu Kwak of the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering and Professor Ja-Hyoung Ryu of the Department of Chemistry at the National Institute of Science and Technology in Ulsan (UNIST) and Dr. Chaekyu Kim of Fusion Biotechnology, Inc. .

Nanomechanical system for molecular machines

The nanomachine, developed by the KIST-UNIST joint research team, selectively penetrates and kills cancer cells, as well as the mechanism of action. Credit: Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KIST)

The joint research team focuses on the hierarchical structure of proteins, in which the axis of the large structure and the mobile units are hierarchically separated. Therefore, only certain parts can move around the axis. Most existing nanomachines are designed so that the mobile components and the axis of the large structure are present in the same layer. In this way, these components undergo simultaneous movement, which complicates the desired control of a particular part.

Hierarchical nanomachine is produced by synthesizing and combining gold nanoparticles with a diameter of 2 nm with molecules that can be folded and unfolded based on the environment. This nanomachine consists of mobile organic molecules and inorganic nanoparticles to function as structures with large axes and defines motion and direction in such a way that when it reaches the cell membrane it leads to mechanical folding / unfolding movement, which leads to direct penetration of the nanomachine in a cell, destroying organelles and causing apoptosis. This new method directly kills cancer cells by mechanical movements without anti-cancer drugs, unlike capsule-type nanocarriers that deliver therapeutic drugs.

Subsequently, a fixing molecule is inserted into the nanomachine to control the mechanical movement for the selective destruction of cancer cells. The thread molecule is designed to be released only in low pH environments. Therefore, in normal cells with relatively high pH (approximately 7.4), the movements of nanomachines are limited and they cannot penetrate the cell. However, at low ambient pH around cancer cells (approximately 6.8), the lock molecules were untied, causing mechanical movement and penetration into the cells.

Dr Jeong said: “The developed nanomachine is inspired by proteins that perform biological functions by changing their shape depending on the environment. We propose a new method for the direct penetration of cancer cells to kill them through the mechanical movements of molecules attached to nanomachines without drugs. This may be a new alternative to overcome the side effects of existing chemotherapy. “

Reference: “Adaptive nanotoxin responsive to stimuli for direct penetration into the cell membrane by molecular folding and unfolding” by Youngdo Jeong, Soyeong Jin, L. Palanikumar, Huyeon Choi, Eunhye Shin, Eun Min Go, Changjoon Keum, Seunghghwan Kim Kim Bang Lee, Mingsu Kim, Hojun Kim, Kuan Hee Lee, Batakrishna Jana, Myong-Hwan Park, Sang Kyu Kuak, Chaekyu Kim and Ja-Hyung Ryu, March 2, 2022, Journal of the American Chemical Society.
DOI: 10.1021 / jacs.2c00084

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.