Genetically Engineered Parasitic Worms Could Be Used To Kill Cancer Cells

By: | July 16th, 2022

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The world has made great progress in cancer treatment options in the last few decades, from immunotherapies to gene therapy.  Technological advances and innovations like CRISPR, AI, Infinium Assay, cryo-electron microscopy, and robotic surgery are helping accelerate progress against cancer.

These technical advancements have helped us identify, visualize, diagnose, and treat cancer better.

Now, researchers from Osaka University have discovered that microscopic worms known as nematodes can kill cancer cells. Nematodes are tiny free-living worms that occur as parasites in animals and plants or as free-living forms in soil or other environmental niches under certain circumstances. Nematode may enter and colonize the human body when consumed.

The scientists found that these worms have an odd liking for cancer cells

The researchers coated these worms with hydrogel-based “sheaths” that can be further engineered to transport anti-cancer agents. The whole process only took 20 minutes to create nematodes fitted with a suit about 0.01 mm thick.

“The results were very clear,” says Shinji Sakai, senior author of the study. “The sheaths did not in any way interfere with the worms’ survival and were flexible enough to maintain the worms’ motility and natural ability to seek out attractive smells and chemical signals.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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