European researchers have developed a new way to destroy cancer cells in a matter of hours. The method is based on the  self-assembly of molecules.

This is a new scientific direction, in which discoveries are just beginning to be made. The main idea is that, under special conditions, some molecules can spontaneously fold and form quite complex molecular structures. At the same time, the “instructions” The assembly of such structures is inherent in the molecules themselves, as scientists figuratively express it.

Employees of the University of Huddersfield (UK) suggested that self-assembling molecules can be used as a powerful tool against cancerous tumors. They conducted experiments that demonstrated the high efficiency of the method.

The scientists used trimetallic complexes (that is, consisting of three layers of dissimilar metals) that can form bonds with zinc, copper, or manganese. It was found that when the metal in such a complex was changed, the mechanism of the effect of the molecule on cancer cells changed. It also changed the type of cancer it targeted. And the inclusion of certain anions (negatively charged ions) in them further increased the variety of cancers that these molecules could target. Researchers expect that by changing metals, they will be able to resist different types of cancer cells.

“We usually spend tremendous effort and funds to create drugs that can be used to treat one or more similar types of cancer. We have gone the other way: having a molecule that can be flexibly tuned makes it possible to treat many types of cancer, — says Head of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Huddersfield, Professor Rice. — This will save the resources and efforts needed to develop drugs».

An important feature of self-assembling molecules, scientists call them selective toxicity: they only affect cancer cells, not affecting healthy and  giving only minor side effects. But the applying of method in practice is still very far away: it requires a large number of trials and tests.

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