Nanotechnology what’s next, assassin bugs?
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The field of nanotechnology has been one of the most promising sciences that has emerged. The potential it came with and the broad scope it is characteristic of is what has made scientists pin their hopes on nanotechnology to solve many a problem of humankind. Let us first appreciate the tiny size of the nanoobjects. One nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a meter. That’s tiny, no that’s microscopic! Operating on such a scale comes with enormous advantages. Confused? Allow me to explain.
Recently, a team of scientists from the the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University has constructed minute robots that can function inside a living animal entity.
The nanobots act upon chemical stimuli inside the body; that is, upon receiving a chemical signal, they react, displaying appropriate responses. The robots were made by using DNA. The DNA was packed together into strands, and this is what make up the robots. Upon stimulated by chemicals, the robots would then unravel into the two strands of DNA. The DNA binds and unbinds in different circumstances, and this is the basis of the way the robots operate to be stimulated and to react.
They work at the cellular level, and that is where their extremely small size helps enormously. They might be tiny, but their tininess is what confers on them their herculean potential to tackle tumors and repairing broken tissues. Moreover, the nanobots can act as real computers inside the body. Therefore, they can be programmed to do a certain list of jobs which their makers choose for them.
The cobaye used to test the nanorobots were cockroaches. They – those terribly annoying creatures – could at least be rendered useful, right?! The cockroach species Blaberus discoidalis was used for the insertion of the nanorobots. The robots were crammed with chemicals, which, upon recognising hemolymph cells found in the cockroah, would bind to them. Hemolymph cells are, in fact, the equivalent of white blood cells in the cockroach. Different kinds of robots were made to enter the body of the unsuspecting cockroach. The ability to inject a large number of robots further broaden the scope of the project: more robots working together computing data implies that more complex calculations can be done.
The robots would be activated when in the presence of the certain chemicals, or specific combinations of chemicals. They would as if be unlocked by specific keys. Together, the robots carry out logical operations; they work out the number of times they are being stimulated by their respective chemicals, for instance. The next step now would be to use other animals as cobayes before actually marketing these nanorobots in medical institutions for humans.
The research community has since long been looking for more and more efficient ways of delivering drugs to the body cells – a task which has proved to be quite challenging. But, this one study has boosted hopes in the field of bioengineering
Find more in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, in which the article was published on the 6th of April. Find the abstract of the paper here.