Have scientists finally found a cancer cure? GM algae KILLS 90 per cent of cancerous cells

SCIENTISTS are heralding a major breakthrough in the fight against cancer after genetically modifying a type of algae with drugs that target affected cells while protecting healthy ones in the body.

By JON AUSTIN | Wed, Nov 11, 2015 | Express (UK) | See Original Here

The genetically modified (GM) algae nanoparticles have been shown during tests to kill 90% of cancer cells, in cultured human cancer cells, without harming the healthy ones around them and also in mice after tumours in the animals regressed.

The diatom algae was loaded with chemotherapy drugs by a team in Australia working with researchers from Dresden in Germany, who have published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Nico Voelcker, from the University of South Australia, said diatom algae is a type of tiny, unicellular, photosynthesising algae, measuring just four to six micrometres in diameter.

It is surrounded with a porous silica skeleton.

By hiding the chemotherapeutic drugs inside the algae, toxic effects caused by contact with healthy cells no longer happened.

The algae was also genetically engineered to produce an antibody-binding protein on the surface of their shells, which, binds only to the molecules on the cancerous cells.

Mr Voelcker explained: "By genetically engineering diatom algae - tiny, unicellular, photosynthesising algae with a skeleton made of nanoporous silica, we are able to produce an antibody-binding protein on the surface of their shells.

"Anti-cancer chemotherapeutic drugs are often toxic to normal tissues.

"To minimise the off-target toxicity, the drugs can be hidden inside the antibody-coated nanoparticles.

"The antibody binds only to molecules found on cancer cells, thus delivering the toxic drug specifically to the target cells."

The newly-published report said: "These data indicate that genetically engineered biosilica frustules may be used as versatile backpacks for the targeted delivery of poorly water-soluble anticancer drugs to tumour sites."

The scientists believe it could reduce the future cost of nanoparticle manufacturing.

Mr Voelcker added: "Although it is still early days, this novel drug delivery system based on a biotechnologically tailored, renewable material holds a lot of potential for the therapy of solid tumours including currently untreatable brain tumours."