The nanomachines are motorised molecules activated with ultra violet light, making them spin up to 3million times a second. The “motor” is a paddle-like chain of atoms that can be prompted to move in one direction. The machines can then pierce and destroy cancer cells or deliver drugs to the heart of them.
One test in the UK involved live human prostate cancer cells. The nanomachines took only a minute at their fastest to drill through the cell membranes, according to the results published in Nature.
Dr Robert Pal, of Durham University, was involved in the breakthrough. He said the team hoped to use the nanomachines on cells resistant to chemotherapy. He said the method could provide “a step change” in non-invasive treatment and greatly improve survival rates.
Co-author Dr James Tour, of Rice University in Houston,said: “These nanomachines are so small that we could park 50000 of them across the diameter of a human hair.” - Daily Mail