Volvox is the first multicellular organism that has evolved from self-assembly of individual cells. Inspired by this organism, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital have developed a novel approach for treating cancer.
Drawing from the lessons of evolution, they designed anti-cancer molecules that can self-assemble with each other into a complex structure through weak supramolecular interactions. The complex, supramolecular therapeutics home into the tumor, increasing anticancer efficacy and reducing side effects.
To engineer the supramolecular therapeutics, the researchers developed a first-of-its-kind computational algorithm that simulates how anticancer molecules interact with each other at the molecular and atomic level. This understanding led to the design of the most optimal building blocks that can click with each other like LEGO blocks to form the supramolecular therapeutic.
"This is an exciting example where nature has inspired the design of a new way to treat cancer," said Shiladitya Sengupta, BWH associate bioengineer and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who led the interdisciplinary team. "We have shown that this technology can be used to develop a wide range of supramolecular therapeutics."