General, Research, Technology

Special nano-syringes will precisely kill cancer cells

If you do not take into account the availability of usefulmicroflora, our body does not really like it when bacteria settle in it. But have you ever thought about how bacteria infect our cells with you? After all, a mere presence here is clearly not enough. Meanwhile, the mechanism that microorganisms use is very simple and at the same time effective - they have something like “syringes” for introducing toxins into the cells of their host. But researchers at the Max Planck Institute have found a way to take advantage of this by replacing cellular toxins with other chemicals, such as drugs. And this is perfect for the treatment of tumor processes.

Nano-syringes will help in the treatment of dangerous diseases

How bacteria can defeat cancer

According to the editors of the New Atlas, manybacteria infect their host cells with the so-called syringe mechanism. Such bacteria include E. coli and Yersinia, the bacterial family that causes plague. These bacteria are fixed on the surface of the cell, and then form a channel that pierces the protective membrane. In this way, bacteria transfer toxic protein inside, killing it within minutes. We regularly write about such interesting facts from the world of science and high technology on the pages of our website. So join to find out more.

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Researchers from the Max Planck Institute earlierstudied this process using cryoelectron microscopy. As the name implies, it involves cooling the samples to ultra-low temperatures, and then studying them using powerful electron microscopes. This allows scientists to see the structure of proteins in high resolution. As part of a new work, the team found out whether bacteria can “switch” these channels for injecting toxins into something more useful. But everything was complicated by the fact that scientists were required to comply with 3 conditions. First, the protein must be of a certain size. Secondly, proteins must be positively charged. And thirdly, proteins should not interact with the molecules that form the “capsule” that holds them inside.

Using the new method, we took the first step to“Our ultimate goal is to use these nanosyringes in medicine for the targeted administration of drugs into body cells,” says Stefan Raunser, lead author of the study. For a very long time, we looked for options on how to make sure that the toxin does not go beyond the nanosyringe. As soon as we found a way and understood how the toxin binds to the surface of the cell, we began to modify the injection mechanism so that it could recognize cancer cells. This would open up completely new possibilities in the treatment of cancer with minimal side effects.

It is worth noting that although this process may beadapted for drug delivery to cells, in some cases it can also be used for the injection of toxic proteins. The team of experts says that nanosyringes can also be used to combat various microorganisms. It’s pretty ironic, don’t you? After all, bacteria can be fought with their own "weapon."