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Nano Robot

I have no scientific basis to substantiate this, but it seems that advances in healthcare during the next 10 years will surpass what has occurred during the past 100 years. Consumer devices such as the Fitbit are the tip of the iceberg that will lead to massive amounts of epidemiologic data being collected by consumers that will benefit them individually and the population at large. One of the many areas of technological advancement is occurring with nanotechnology.

I remember attending a conference 15 or so years ago where a presenter said the day would come when we would be able to drink a “nanobot cocktail”. The nano robots would then traverse our bodies and make “corrections or replacements” to cells they found to be defective. To most, it seemed unbelievable. Fast-forward to 2013 when engineers at the University of California, San Diego had invented a “nanosponge” capable of safely removing dangerous toxins from the bloodstream – including toxins produced by MRSA, E coli, and even poisonous snakes and bees. The nanosponges have already been studied in mice and have been found able to neutralize poor-forming toxins that destroy cells by poking holes in their cell membranes. The nanosponges look like red blood cells, and therefore serve as red blood cell decoys which can collect the toxins. The nanosponges absorb damaging toxins and divert them away from their cellular targets. After a half-life of 40 hours in the researchers’ experiments in mice, the liver safely metabolized both the nanosponges and the sequestered toxins. The liver incurred no discernible damage. This is not science fiction. In fact the researchers have a goal to translate their work into approved therapies. This would be a welcomed breakthrough in the treatment of MRSA, a dangerous and antibiotic-resistant bacteria which has become prevalent in hospitals.

Before continuing, lets reflect for a moment on the word nano. Simply put, nano means “one billionth”. Nano is normally used in connection with with the metric system. For example, the nano prefix denotes a factor of 0.000000001 meters. A typical nano robot ranges in size from 1,000 to 10,000 nano meters. To put this in perspective, a human hair is approximately 80,000- 100,000 nanometers wide.

The latest nano invention goes a step further. A team of researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in the French-speaking part of Switzerland are proposing a nano cocktail. Patients may soon be able to track their illness simply by drinking a solution containing millions of tiny electronic sensors disguised as bacteria. After the microscopic sensors have been ingested and enter the blood stream, they would locate and attach themselves to diseased tissue in the patient’s body and send out a continuous stream of diagnostic data via telemetry. A potential use is to track cancer cell metabolism which could be valuable information for oncologists. The researchers do not believe there would be any side effects. The nano bots would be removed from the body either when a tumor is removed or, if therethere is no diseased tissue, through the patient’s method of passing things out of their bodies. 

Source: Tracking Cancer Cells With ‘Drinkable’ Electronic Sensors