Researchers achieved the destruction of 99% of cancer cells by utilizing vibrating molecules


 Jackhammer Diagram

 via Ciceron Ayala-Orozco/Rice University

In a laboratory experiment, researchers achieved the destruction of 99% of cancer cells by utilizing vibrating molecules. A new method was identified, involving the exposure of aminocyanine molecules to near-infrared light, inducing synchronized vibrations that effectively disrupted the membranes of cancer cells.

Aminocyanine molecules, well-known for their application as synthetic dyes in bioimaging, are commonly employed in low doses for cancer detection. They exhibit stability in water and a remarkable ability to attach themselves to cell exteriors.

The collaborative team from Rice University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Texas highlighted the significant advancement of this approach over another cancer-targeting molecular machine, the Feringa-type motors, known for breaking down problematic cell structures.

Described as a new generation of molecular machines termed "molecular jackhammers" by Rice University chemist James Tour, these machines operate over a million times faster in their mechanical motion compared to the previous Feringa-type motors and can be activated with near-infrared light instead of visible light.

The use of near-infrared light is crucial, allowing penetration deeper into the body, potentially treating cancer in bones and organs without resorting to surgery for direct access to cancer growth.

In laboratory tests on cultured cancer cells, the molecular jackhammer method demonstrated an impressive 99% success rate in destroying the cells. Further experiments on mice with melanoma tumors showed that half of the animals achieved a cancer-free status.

The specific structure and chemical properties of aminocyanine molecules ensure synchronization with the appropriate stimulus, such as near-infrared light. When set into motion, the electrons within these molecules generate plasmons, cohesive vibrating entities that induce movement throughout the entire molecule.

Chemist Ciceron Ayala-Orozco from Rice University emphasized the discovery of a new explanation for how these molecules function, utilizing molecular plasmons to excite the entire molecule and produce mechanical action to tear apart cancer cell membranes.

The plasmons have an arm on one side, aiding in linking the molecules to cancer cell membranes, where the vibrations successfully break them apart. While still in the early stages of research, these initial findings show significant promise.

Furthermore, this biomechanical technique is straightforward, posing a challenge for cancer cells to develop resistance. The researchers are currently exploring other types of molecules that can be employed in a similar fashion.

These groundbreaking findings have been published in Nature Chemistry.

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