Weekly News Bites: Altruistic cancer cells, nanodrones, and a living blanket

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are self-sacrificing cancer cells, tiny new drones that kill cancer cells and a living “skin” that covers the Great Wall of China.

Cancer can come back even after intense therapy and low/no detection. “Altruistic” cancer cells sacrifice their growth to “hide” others from chemotherapy finds researchers from NUS Medicine. This allows the new cancer cells to survive the treatments and grow, causing a reoccurrence of the disease.

A new type of “nanodrone” developed by the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) can selectively bind to cancer cells, offering new hopes for treatment. The nanodrones attach to certain types of cancer cells, such as those with the HER2 protein, making them a target for the body’s natural killer cells. As their name suggests, these cells then kill their target, leaving the other healthy cells alone.

A living blanket made up of bacteria, moss, and lichen is protecting the Great Wall of China from climate erosion says a study by China Agricultural University. The “communities” of these organisms prevent salt buildup and shield the wall from elements such as wind and rain.

An Egyptian-Japanese archeological project, including Waseda University, has discovered graves and artifacts at the at the Saqqara necropolis region in Egypt. Death masks, statues and amulets make up some of the artifacts found by the collaborators. The findings date from different periods and cover different dynasties.