Engineered Nanobots Demonstrated to Eliminate Hepatitis C Virus


The concept of intracellular nanobots is very intriguing.  The idea is to build miniature machines that can detect problems within cells and correct them, perhaps even removing and reversing age-related damage.

The dawn of the age of nanotechnology is upon us and we are just starting to get the first inklings of what this type of technology will do for us.

The current study demonstrates the fabrication of a simple synthetic machine that can eradicate hepatitis C virus, a virulent disease known to cause to cirrhosis and liver cancer.  Current treatments are at best 50% effective.

Researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville created a tiny machine that has a gold nanoparticle backbone.  On the surface of the gold are two biological agents.  One element is a DNA antisense fragment that binds the target viral RNA, and thereby brings the nanobot close to the site of action.  The other agent is a sequence nonspecific endoribonuclease, which cleaves and thus destroys the viral RNA fragment in the bot’s grasp.

When cultured cells infected with hepatitis C virus were exposed to the nanobots, the treatment led to almost a 100 percent decrease in hepatitis C virus levels.  Furthermore when living mice were administered the nanobots, the same nearly 100% reduction in virus was observed.  Furthermore the nanbots did not elicit an immune response in the mice.

“We can effectively stop hepatitis C infection if this technology can be further developed for clinical use,” said scientist Hongyan Liu, who is a member of The UF Shands Cancer Center.

Conceivably a pill form can be made.

“They’ve developed a nanoparticle that mimics a complex biological machine — that’s quite a powerful thing,” said nanoparticle expert Dr. C. Shad Thaxton, an assistant professor of urology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and co-founder of the biotechnology company AuraSense LLC, who was not involved in the UF study. “The promise of nanotechnology is extraordinary. It will have a real and significant impact on how we practice medicine.”

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