When you hear the term liquid-metal terminators, you’d probably be afraid i.e., if you grew up watching the Terminator movies. However, Unlike those terminators these liquid-metal nano-terminators were used to fight cancer cells. Researchers in the United States have successfully developed biodegradable liquid metal which will be used to carry drugs to target fatal cancer cells. Zhen Gu, a biomedical engineer enrolled in a joint program at North Carolina’s State University and University at Chapel Hill said,
The advance here is that we have a drug-delivery technique that may enhance the effectiveness of the drugs being delivered, can help doctors locate tumors, can be produced in bulk, and appears to be wholly biodegradable with very low toxicity. And one of the advantages of this technique is that these liquid metal drug carriers – or ‘nano-terminators’ – are very easy to make.
To make this liquid-metal drug carrier, or nano-terminator, researchers would deposit liquid metal, a gallium indium alloy, into a solution with polymeric ligands. The result would then be bombarded with ultrasound waves which would eventually cause the liquid metal to burst into very small droplets measuring about 100 nanometers in diameter, easy enough to enter the bloodstream. The ligands would attach to the formed droplets forming a layer which would then keep the droplets from fusing back together again. Once that happens, doxorubicin, an anti-cancer drug, would be introduced to the solution upon which the ligands would absorb it, creating a perfect drug-filled vessel. This vessel can be separated from the solution and released into the bloodstream. Another type of ligand that can be attached to the nanodroplets can effectively find cancer cells and kill them. Cancer cells would latch onto these droplets and ultimately absorb them. This would release doxorubicin inside the cancer cell, and it’s a goodbye. Once the droplets enter the cancer cells, the liquid metal will react with the acidity which would release gallium ions. These ions actually boost the performance of the anti-cancer drug all the while degrading the metal. One of the members of the team, Yue Lu said,
Based on in vitro tests, we believe the liquid metal degrades completely in a matter of days into a form that the body can successfully absorb or filter out, without notable toxic effects.
The findings of these ambitious researchers were published in Nature Communications. The team intends to continue the research. The trials, in the next phase, will move to larger animals, and if successful, human trials will begin.You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ for more updates. Otherwise fill in the subscription box above, or subscribe to our RSS Feed.