Technology

Scientists Design Magnetic Tweezers To Kill Cancer Cells

The nano-bot which was earlier used study cancer cells can now be positioned inside a human cell with magnetic tweezers to diagnose cancer.

A team of researchers at the University of Toronto have designed magnetic tweezers to position nano-beads within a human cell with precision. Earlier, nano-bots were used to analyze the properties of cancer cells. Hitherto the researchers were only able to explore outside the cells and assumed functioning inside the cells. Therefore, Professor Yu Sun along with his team developed magnetic tweezers to understand structural mechanism inside the cells.

The research involved placing six magnetic coils at various places around live cancer cells mounted by microscope coverslips. The magnetic iron beads, measuring 700 nanometers are placed on the cover slip and further the cancer cells take the beads inside their membranes. Once the beads enter the thick membranes, the researchers can control its positioning with computer-directed algorithm. Computing ensures that flickering electric current passing through individual coil is under control thus, framing the magnetic field in three different dimensions. The beads can be coaxed into any desired position inside the membranes and exerting forces. The team studies the early-stage and later-stage cancer cells with the help of novel system. It was found that in the later-stage cancer cells, the response was not strong as the response in the former stage.

Thus, these nano-bots can either be used to block the blood vessels in tumor thereby, avoiding resulting cognitive damage or can be used to directly eliminate the cells through mechanical ablation. This can help in diagnoses of cancer which is otherwise not responsive to radiotherapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. In order to use this technique in clinical sphere, more research needs to be directed. Currently, the researchers are experimenting on animals to achieve greater precision and force control. The study was published in the journal, Science Robotics on March 13, 2019.