Robot Worms Offer Cancer Hope
Tiny machines could identify, kill tumors early
By Laila Weir,  Newser User
Posted May 13, 2008 2:31 PM CDT
In this photo provided by North Carolina State University, Breast Cancer survivors form a ribbon during halftime of the third annual Hoops for Hope basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Feb. 10, 2008.   (AP Photo/North Carolina State,Bryan D. DeBlaker)
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(Newser) – Little mechanical “worms” offer the latest hope for early detection—and eradication—of cancer. Researchers have created tiny machines that travel through the body, find tumors that are too small to see in normal scans, and then deliver drugs to kill them. The method has worked to spot tumors in mice, but it’s still years from human use, ABC reports.

The machines, called “nanoworms,” would then break down and leave the body. The snag has been creating devices that get past the body’s defenses long enough to reach tumors. Scientists from the University of California-San Diego, UC-Santa Barbara and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered a design and coating that let the worms do just that—at least in mice.