Of the Seven Deadly Things, cancer is debatably the most formidable. This assertion is based on the genericity of cancer as indicated by its potential genesis in every cell type and its broad range of causes – chemical carcinogens, aging, lifestyle, radiation, infection, genetic constitution etc. Cancer is accordingly a focal point of life extension research. Project Gilgamesh proclaims that the development of anti-cancer medicine in the form of cancer nanomedicine represents a culmination of the three-fold requirement of augmented molecular recognition, biomimetics, and secondary intelligence (as the foundation for molecular repair nanotechnology discussed in Targeted Drug Delivery Systems as Prototypical Nanotechnology).
In Targeted Drug Delivery Systems as Prototypical Nanotechnology, the targeted drug delivery system was tendered as a prototypical foundation for molecular repair nanotechnology on the premise of its heavy reliance on molecular recognition and biomimetics. However, it generally does not make use of any sophisticated form of secondary intelligence. Cancer nanomedicine represents the targeted drug delivery system augmented by a sophisticated from of secondary intelligence. Accordingly, it represents a more appropriate basis for the development of molecular repair nanotechnology.
Present proposals for targeted drug delivery systems make use of DNA nanotechnology in the form of DNA nanostructures compatible with DNA computing, facilitating direct sensing of biochemical environment. For example, logic circuits based on nucleic acids can be potentially be used as the kernel of a drug delivery system that releases a drug in response to a well-defined stimulus (such as a specific mRNA sequence). In addition, the DNA origami method affords the synthesis of a DNA “box” with a controllable lid. Such a structure (and other related structures) could enclose a drug in its closed configuration, and open to release it in close proximity to its target in response to a specific molecular stimulus. Proof of concept studies have also demonstrated the efficacy of targeted drug delivery systems that deliver their load directly inside cells. These proposals do highlight all three of aforementioned requirements for the prototypical foundation for molecular repair nanotechnology – augmented molecular recognition, biomimesis and secondary intelligence.
A milestone in the context of sophisticated secondary intelligence is the publication, in Nature by Shapiro et al., of the construction of a DNA computer with an input and output module theoretically capable of diagnosing cancerous activity on a cell by cell basis, and releasing an anti-cancer drug upon diagnosis. Other valuable investigations have followed the work of Shapiro et al. Another noteworthy development which redounds to the infinite benefit of DNA computing and its applications is the recent invention of the transcriptor (biological analogue of the electronic transistor) by a team of bioengineers from Stanford University.
The development of cancer nanomedicine serves the life extension agenda in two significant ways. First, it addresses the problem of cancer. Second, it serves as a foundation for the development of molecular repair nanotechnology – the single most promising technology for the eradication of all seven of the Seven Deadly Things.