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Visible-light-activated molecular nanomachines kill pancreatic cancer cells.

Ayala Orozco, Ciceron and Liu, Dongdong and Li, Yongjiang and Alemany, Lawrence B. and Pal, Robert and Krishnan, Sunil and Tour, James M. (2020) 'Visible-light-activated molecular nanomachines kill pancreatic cancer cells.', ACS applied materials & interfaces., 12 (1). pp. 410-417.


Recently, synthetic molecular nanomachines (MNMs) that rotate unidirectionally in response to UV light excitation have been used to produce nanomechanical action on live cells to kill them through the drilling of holes in their cell membranes. In the work here, visible-light-absorbing MNMs are designed and synthesized to enable nanomechanical activation by 405 nm light, thereby using a wavelength of light that is less phototoxic than the previously employed UV wavelengths. Visible-light-absorbing MNMs that kill pancreatic cancer cells upon response to light activation are demonstrated. Evidence is presented to support the conclusion that MNMs do not kill cancer cells by the photothermal effect when used at low optical density. In addition, MNMs suppress the formation of reactive oxygen species, leaving nanomechanical action as the most plausible working mechanism for cell killing under the experimental conditions.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in ACS applied materials & interfaces copyright © American Chemical Society after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see
Date accepted:09 December 2019
Date deposited:10 January 2020
Date of first online publication:09 December 2019
Date first made open access:09 December 2020

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