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‘Nanobots’ shrink bladder tumours in mice


A new way to deliver drugs to dramatically reduce cancerous bladder tumours in mice, has been used in a Spanish study.

The research, led by the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and CIC biomaGUNE, along with the Institute for Research in Biomedicine and the Autonomous University of Barcelona, targeted the tumours using microscopic machines (nanobots), that carry an enzyme called urease plus a radioactive compound.

When a single dose of the nanobots were inserted into the bladders of mice with tumours, using a catheter, the team found that the animals’ tumours shrank by 90%.

Because the urease reacts with urine, the nanobots can ‘self-propel’ themselves directly to the site of the tumour, by converting energy from the urine into movement, while the radioactive element is what kills the tumour.

Usually, patients need to have around 6 to 14 hospital appointments for treatment, but Samuel Sánchez, at IBEC, explained: “Such a treatment approach would enhance efficiency, reducing the length of hospitalisation and treatment costs.”

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