Nanomachines that can drill into cancer cells have been developed by scientists.
The breakthrough means the diseased cells could be killed in just 60 seconds.
The tiny spinning molecules known as nanomachines are driven by light and move so quickly they can burrow through cell linings.
In tests conducted at Durham University, they took between one and three minutes to break through the membrane of a prostate cancer cell, killing it completely. The research was published in the journal Nature.
Dr. Robert Pal, of Durham University, thinks the nanomachines could be effective against a range of cancers including those that currently resist available treatments.
He said: “We are moving towards realizing our ambition to be able to use light-activated nanomachines to target cancer cells such as those in breast tumors and skin melanomas, including those that are resistant to existing chemotherapy.
“Once developed, this approach could provide a potential step change in noninvasive cancer treatment and greatly improve survival rates and patient welfare globally.”
The motor can be made to hone in on specific cells and spin when activated.
Experiments at the university showed that they could also locate cells of interest, but would not drill into them unless activated.
They found that the nanomachines needed to spin at two to three million times per second to bore into the cells.