Lesson 3 - Medical English:

'DNA robot' targets cancer cells

Scientists have developed and tested a "DNA robot" that delivers payloads such as drug molecules to specific cells.

The container was made using a method called "DNA origami", in which long DNA chains are folded in a prescribed way.

Then, so-called aptamers - which can recognise specific cell types - were used to lock the barrel-shaped robot.

In lab testsdescribed in Science, the locks opened on contact with cancer cell proteins, releasing antibodies that halted the cells' growth.

The method could find wide use in biological applications, where this kind of "specificity" is highly prized.

Lead author of the research, Shawn Douglas of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, said the result brings together several recent research strands.

"We've been working on figuring out how to build different shapes using DNA over the past several years, and other researchers have used antibodies as therapeutics, in order to manipulate cell signalling, and yet others have demonstrated that aptamers can be used to target cancer cell types," Dr Douglas told BBC News.

"The novel part is really integrating all those different pieces and putting them together in a single device that works."

In essence, the approach co-opts a number of strategies of our immune systems, with the robots playing the role of white blood cells that hunt down problematic cells and destroy them.

The team tested the robots using several cultures of cancer cells including lymphoma and leukemia, with corresponding payloads of antibodies.

Because DNA is found in nearly all of our cells, Dr Douglas said the robots posed fewer problems of toxicity than many materials would have.

Scientists have already discovered a large number of different aptamers that can "recognise" proteins corresponding to different diseases, so the approach could in principle be adapted to a wide range of applications.

Dr Douglas said that there was still much optimisation to be done on the robots; for now the team will create a great many of them to be tested in an animal model.

taken with kind permission from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17058066

                             prepared by Angloland skola www.angloland.rs 


to deliver – to carry to a particular place in a human body

payloads-the carrying capacity of an aircraft orspace ship, includingcargomunitions, scientific instruments or experiments, extra fuel etc 2. a metaphor of the same thing happening in the body

container- an item used to contain, store, and transport products  practical examples including jars, tubes, barrels, glasses etc

origami -  the traditional Japaneseartof paper folding, here used as a metaphor of the same thing happening in our body

DNA- a molecule that encodes the geneticinstructions used in the development and functioning of all known livingorganismsand manyviruses. DNA is anucleic acid; alongsideproteinsandcarbohydrates, nucleic acids compose the three majormacromoleculesessential for all known forms oflife.

chain –  a series of connectedlinkswhich are typically made of metal. A chain may consist of two or more links

to fold - to make compact by doubling or bending over parts:

to prescribe- to order the use of (a medicine or other treatment).

to lock - to shut or make secure with or as if with locks:

barrel shaped- having the general shape of a barrelcircular,round shape

a lab – short for a laboratory, a room or building with special equipment for doing scientific experiments and tests

to describe- to convey an idea or impression of; characterize, to represent pictorially; depict

to release- to set free, to free , to unfasten or let go of something caught or held fast.

antibodies- a Y-shaped protein on the surface of B cells that is secreted into the blood or lymph in response to an antigenic stimulus, such as a bacterium, virus, parasite, or transplanted organ, and that neutralizes the antigen by binding specifically to it; an immunoglobulin.

to halt- to stop , to block , to impede

growth – full development, maturity, process of growing

application- implementation, use , usage

highly prized – valuable, precious, invaluable, cherished

strand - a single filament, such as a fiber or thread, of a woven or braided material 2. something that is plaited or twisted as a ropelike length such as DNA strands

to figure out – to work out, to think through

therapeutics- of or relating to the medical treatment of a disease or condition

to target – to aim, to have a goal, to set an objective

cell -thecellis the basic structural, functional and biological unit of all knownlivingorganisms. Cells are the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and are often called the "building blocks of life".

device – tool, machine, apparatus

to co-opt- to make someone amemberthrough thechoiceof thepresentmembers:

immune – resistant , not susceptible to

to hunt down – to pursue, to chase , totrytofindeverymemberofagroup

lymphoma -a type of cancer that begins in immune system cells. Includes information on the symptoms, causes and treatments.

leukemia-leukemia(American English) or leukaemia(British English) is a type ofcancerof thebloodorbone marrowcharacterized by an abnormal increase of immaturewhite blood cellscalled "blasts".

to pose - to place (a model, for example) in a specific position to pose problems – to cause, to bring about , to wreak

to discover- to uncover, to find , to find out, to learn

disease – illness, sickness,  malady, disorder, imbalance in one’s body

approach – method, technique

to recognize-detect with the senses, to discern, to make out

to adapt – to modify, to change, to alter, to introduce alterations in order to improve the technique

animal model – a living, non-human animal used during the research and investigation of humandisease, for the purpose of better understanding the disease without the added risk of harming an actual human being during the process.

     prepared by Angloland skolawww.angloland.rs


taken with kind permission from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17058066

prepared by Angloland skola www.angloland.rs office @ angloland.rs



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