genetically engineered algae
Genetically engineered Diatom algae to destroy most cancers cells. Source: Derek Keats ---- Flickr

Algae has been genetically modified to kill most cancers cells with out harming healthy cells. The algae nano particles, created by scientists in Australia, had been found to kill 90% of cancer cells in cultured human cells. The algae was additionally successful at killing cancer in mice with tumors.

Nico Voelcker, from the University of South Australia, labored with researchers from Dresden in Germany to engineer diatom algae and loaded it with chemotherapeutic drugs. Publishing their research in the journal Nature Communications, the group also discovered that after they injected the nano particles into mice, tumors regressed.

Diatom algae is a kind of tiny, unicellular, photosynthesizing algae. It measures just four to six micro metres in diameter and is enclosed inside a porous skeleton made of silica. Because chemotherapeutic drugs are often toxic to healthy tissue, the researchers have been able to conceal the medication inside the algae.

Researchers genetically engineered the algae to produce an antibody-binding protein on the surface of their shells. In turn, the antibody binds only to molecules found on cancer cells, which means it can ship medication to the target cells.

Voelcker said: “By genetically engineering diatom algae – tiny, unicellular, photosynthesizing algae with a skeleton made of nanoporous silica, we’re able to produce an antibody-binding protein on the surface of their shells. Anti-cancer chemotherapeutic drugs are often toxic to healthy tissues.

“To minimize the off-target toxicity, the medicine could be hidden inside the antibody-coated nano particles. The antibody binds only to molecules found on cancer cells, thus delivering the poisonous drug specifically to the target cancer cells.”

The report authors say that: “The data indicate that genetically engineered bio-silica frustules could also be used as versatile ‘backpacks’ for the focused delivery of poorly water-soluble anticancer medication to tumor sites.”

As algae basically only needs water and light to grow, the authors believe the approach may cut back the price and waste of nano particle manufacturing and has an enormous potential for future cancer treatments. “Though it’s still early days, this novel drug supply system primarily based on a bio-technologically tailor-made, renewable materials hold quite a lot of potential for the therapy of solid tumors including the presently untreatable brain tumors,” Voelcker mentioned.

Genetically engineered diatom biosilica
Genetically engineered diatom biosilica (green) containing liposome-encapsulated drug molecules (yellow) could be targeted to lymphocyte cells in suspension (purple) by functionalizing the biosilica surface with cell specific antibodies. Liposome-encapsulated drug molecules are released from the biosilica carrier in the immediate vicinity of the target cells (inset). Source: Marc Cirera.



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