Cancer Fighting Robots
An article in Harvard Magazine reveals that scientists at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed "a drug-delivering nanorobot." The device is programmed to recognize a target on a cell surface and "the drug payload is secured with anchor strands to the interior." The article goes on to explain that double-stranded DNA latches "ensure that the robot unlocks only in the presence of a molecular key expressed by the target cells. That opens the device enabling the payload to attack only the designated cells."
Lead researcher Shawn Douglas is quoted as saying, “Our goal is to make tools that can zero in on malfunctioning cells. We want to be able to fix things when they break—when cells go haywire due to cancer or other diseases where things just aren’t working correctly. To do that, I think it makes sense to master this kind of nanoscale construction.”
The goal is that the robots, unlike chemotherapy, would attack the cancer but not shut down "all sorts of good processes that we want to keep going,” as Douglas put it. This could mean then end of side effects such as hair loss and nausea.
Here's a link to a YouTube video showing via animation exactly how the robots would work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JfEOG-clAI