Nanomotors Operate Inside Living Cells
For the first time, researchers from Penn State University have created “nanomotors” that can be controlled while inside a living cell. These microscopic synthetic motors can move inside a cell, spin around and bump against cell membranes.
According to the researchers, this breakthrough has the potential to improve cancer treatments and change the way medicine is administered, and could one day help treat diseases by mechanically manipulating cells.
“As these nanomotors move around and bump into structures inside the cells, the live cells show internal mechanistic responses that no one has seen before,” said Tom Mallouk, Materials Chemistry and Physics Professor at Penn State in a university statement.
In the past, researchers struggled with how to safely operate these microscopic metal rockets inside living cells. Previous attempts to power nanomotors included toxic chemical reactions, which are unsafe for an organism.
The new nanomotors, however, are powered by ultrasound pulses and magnetic forces and have been successfully tested in HeLa cells.
“One dream application of ours is Fantastic Voyage-style medicine, where nanomotors would cruise around inside the body, communicating with each other and performing various kinds of diagnoses and therapy,” said Mallouk.
The research was published this week in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.
Top image via “A Demonstration Of Very Active Gold Nanorods Internalized Inside HeLa Cells,” courtesy PSU Social Media Relations and Public Information / YouTube.