Nanorobots: Disease-Fighting Machines

Updated: Feb 6, 2019

By: Veeraj Shah


Instead of having robots doing your chores or flying around, why not have them inside our bodies improving life easier from the inside? Having robots deliver drugs at a specific location and hunt down and destroy cancer cells will greatly improve and advance the current human health. Nanorobots are the future of medicine!


The Background

Current advancements in the creation of nanorobots use sheets of DNA rolled into tubes containing a blood-clotting drug.{1} Nanorobots are very similar to viruses as shown by the image above. The reason for the blood-clotting drug was to test if nanorobots can aid in destroying tumors by blocking their blood supply. This is one particular use of nanobots, but the tube inside the DNA sheets can contain different drugs to treat other complications, such as drugs directly injected inside of the cancerous cells and destroying them from the inside. Nanorobots can be programmed and controlled in a manner that it can be precisely latched onto the cell the scientist desired. {1}{2}Therefore, the nanorobots only target the tumors, in this case, and so not cause clotting elsewhere in the body. The nanorobots’ accuracy allows for devastating diseases such as cancer to be cured by treatments with no side effects.


The Engineering of Nanorobots

The development of such sophisticated, millimeter-long robots involves some complex engineering. An assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Toronto in Canada, Eric Diller, is building these robots using elastic polymers filled with magnetic particles that are able to grasp objects.{1} The legs can attach blood cells in the body due to the activation of magnetic fluids in the legs attracting the robot to the iron particles in our blood. These magnetic legs can be controlled by magnetic fields emitted by the scientists. In addition, the legs themselves can close, allowing the robot to carry drug capsules into the body.

Another way to develop self- functionng robots so they can propel themselves is by developing nanometers. The wires and tubes that make up these motors are created from materials like gold magnesium and carbon. Therefore, these robots are able to either propel themselves using fluids found within the body, such as stomach acid or be dragged using magnetic fields like the previous build. Also, researchers have proved with the addition of biosensors like antibodies that they can more effectively detect the chemical signals emitted from the diseases. Furthermore, powerful toxins can be absorbed by the robots with the implementation of nanosponges to help detoxify the body, improving the overall body functions and health.


Our Natural Robots

Surprisingly enough, many nanorobots are based on our own body self-defenses. Tested by a research group in Germany, male sperm cells function very similarly to nanorobots mentioned above. Research is being done to find a resemblance of such robots within your body’s. These sperm cells were injected with anti-cancer drugs and placed on a magnetic harness and were guided toward cancer tumors on a petri dish. {2} Within a few days, an astounding 87 percent of cancer cells were dead. Therefore, like our sperm cells are able to precisely infect these cancer cells using some outside control, nanorobots aim to do the same and fight even more diseases!

________________________________________________________________________

References

[1] Nanobots in medicine: The key to fighting chronic diseases with nanomedicine. (2018, November 05). Retrieved from https://www.healtheuropa.eu/nanobots-in-medicine-nanomedicine/88829/

[2] These tiny robots could be disease-fighting machines inside the body. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/these-tiny-robots-could-be-disease-fighting-machines-inside-body-ncna861451

The Scientific Teen

Since June 2018

Using science writing as a medium, we aim to advance collaboration between young adults worldwide with the belief that through educating people today, we can solve worldwide problems tomorrow. By providing opportunities for youth interested in science, together we can increase the presence of scientific writing in schools, further science education, and encourage future careers in STEM.

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn Social Icon

The Scientific Teen 2020.