Nanobots Could be the Future of the Medical Industry

Monday, 01 June 2015 - 3:57PM
Medical Tech
Nanotechnology
Monday, 01 June 2015 - 3:57PM
Nanobots Could be the Future of the Medical Industry
This spring, Ido Bachelet and his team at Israel's Bar-Ilan University began the human trials of their exciting quest to utilize nanobots in cancer treatment. In what is yet another big step towards a robotic treatment for cancer, nanobots were injected into a leukemia patient with the hope that they could eliminate the disease in just one month. These tiny robots are built to recognize cancerous cells and deliver treatment directly to the source, with a level of accuracy so highly developed that, in a test with human blood cultures, no healthy cells were harmed.

This remarkable treatment is the latest example of the increasingly automated nature of the medical industry, which could soon end up resembling something out of a science fiction film. So versatile are these minute machines, medical nanobots are also expected to soon see human trials in the area of eye surgery. The small size of the nanobots would allow for a more noninvasive surgery, performed by the nearly microscopic robot with its own retractable needle, guided by the electromagnetic impulses of a system called "The OctoMag", resulting in the incredible (and creepy) images you see in the video below.



The minute scale of the nanobots and their proven accuracy will hopefully one day make surgical procedures and medical treatments safer for the patient and more effective at targeting problems at the source. The cancer-targeting nanobots, with their ability to bypass healthy cells, leaving them untouched and unaffected, could help reduce some of the more painful and debilitating side effects of current cancer treatments. The surgical nanobots may only be in trials for eye surgery at the moment, but that same guided technology could be used in variety of delicate procedures thanks to their small size limiting excess damage to surrounding tissue.

So much treatment and surgery involves working from the outside in, but these nanobots allow work to begin from the inside, right at the source. As researchers strive to make surgical nanobots small and smaller, the uses for these machines within the human body seem potentially endless.

Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the MIT Media Lab, sees another future use for nanobots in biotechnology, one that is centered on the delivery of information, not medicine. If a robot can deposit a cancer treatment directly to a cancerous cell, perhaps it could be programmed with other deposits – like data delivered directly to the brain. In the video below, Negroponte describes how efforts to interact with the brain have all been done from the outside, but nanobot technology gives us a way to access the human information center from the inside, through injections into the bloodstream that would pass into the nervous systems in the brain. According to Negroponte, "you could, in theory, load Shakespeare into your bloodstream." 



Though Negroponte does not believe that this type of advancement in nano-technology, will happen in his lifetime, he does believe that it is a reasonable prediction based on the current acceleration in use of nanobot technology. It may sound like science fiction, but this is actually the latest example in how new technologies could go on to both change and save lives in the near future.
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