Israeli scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have successfully treated a cancerous tumor, eradicating its cancer cells using a “nano-factory” – a synthetic cell that produces anti-cancer proteins within the tissue, the Technion announced in a statement this week.
Synthetic cells, the prestigious Haifa-based university says, “are artificial systems with capacities similar to, and, at times, superior to those of natural cells.”
“Just as human cells can generate a variety of biological molecules, the synthetic cell can produce a wide range of proteins,” the university explains, adding that “such systems bear vast potential in the tissue engineering discipline, in the production of artificial organs and in studying the origins of life.”
After experimenting with the synthetic cells in a lab, the technology was tested on mice where the proteins produced by the engineered particles eradicated the cancer cells once they reached the tumor, the Technion said.
The research, published in the medical magazine “Advanced Healthcare Materials,” combines “synthetic biology to artificially produce proteins and targeted drug delivery to direct the synthetic cell to abnormal tissues,” the university said.
The scientists said the particles and their activity were monitored in real-time using a fluorescence microscope.
Assistant Professor Avi Schroeder at the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering at the Technion who co-led the research with doctoral student Nitzan Krinsky said, “By coding the integrated DNA template, the particles we developed can produce a variety of protein medicines. They are modular, meaning they allow for activation of protein production in accordance with the environmental conditions.
“The artificial cells we’ve developed at the Technion may take an important part in the personalized medicine trend – adjustment of treatment to the genetic and medical profile of a specific patient,” he added.