(ORDO NEWS) — Nanomedicine is advancing at a rapid pace, and in recent years it has opened up all sorts of exciting possibilities: A new study has demonstrated how tiny particles can be used as mechanical medicine inside cells to cause cancer cells to die while leaving healthy ones unscathed.
This discovery is the work of scientists from the National Research Council of Spain, who set out to better understand how mechanical signals can determine the fate of individual cells.
The cytoskeleton, which gives the cells shape and structure, in combination with the membrane forms a mechanical system that can change the functions of the cell under the influence of physical forces.
Some therapies, such as the chemotherapy drug Paclitaxel, aim to alter this mechanical function and result in cell death.
A deeper understanding of these subtle systems could open up even more possibilities and lead to the creation of highly effective treatments that destroy cancer cells from the inside.
To explore these possibilities, the researchers designed a silicon nanochip to destabilize cell mechanics during cell division, called mitosis.
Working with cervical cancer cells in the lab, the scientists incubated them with star-shaped chips and found that they incorporated into the cell at a high rate.
About 90 percent of the cells in which the devices were inserted showed signs of an altered cell cycle, with about half of them having delayed or blocked cell division.
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