Published on July 24th, 2012 | by Steven Hodson0
Nanorobots Could Be A Big Winner In Fight Against Hepatitis C
Hepatitus C is a disease that infects 170 million people world wide and the current method of treatment, using a 48-week regime of Interferon and Ribavarin, often can lead to scarring and cirrhosis of the liver as well as some pretty debilitating side effects like anemia, depression and extreme fatigue. These side effects can be so bad that some people being treated this way for Hepatitis C have to stop their treatments.
This could change if the work by researchers at the University of Miami, being lead by Dr. Chen Liu, prove to be safe for human use. This new treatment utilizes nanorobots that can attack the very mechanism of viral reproduction.
The actually heavy lifter of this approach is a particle called a nanozyme which is made up of two biological components – mRNA, a type of protein that destroys the carrier of the genetic recipe of the protein of the virus, being the first. The second is the “intelligence” of the system – a DNA oligonucleotide – which is used to identify the material and then instructs the enzyme to destroy the carrier of the protein code.
Dr. Liu suggests that the potential for nanorobots doesn’t end there though:
But it’s not only hepatitis C that can be treated with nanotherapy. Lead researcher Dr. Chen Liu said the new technology can have broad application because it can target any gene researchers want, such as cancer and other viral infections. “This opens the door to new fields so we can test many other things. We’re excited about it,” Liu said.
Nanoparticle technologies are already being used in medical treatments, especially in genetic testing and to help determine genetic markers of diseases. The researchers say they could hail a new age in medicine because nanorobots can enter diseased cells only, targeting only the specified disease process but leaving healthy cells unharmed. What’s more, therapies could be delivered in pill form. In the case of this particular nanoparticle, further safety testing is needed.