Could nanobots be used in construction?

Robots in the blood

Another new concept is Drexel University in Philadelphia, whose scientists led by Professor Dr. Min Jun Kim have developed spherical, magnetic nanorobots that can be reversibly joined together like strings of pearls. The speed of the tiny trains depends on their length: longer units move faster than short-chain versions. With this method, too, external magnetic fields are used to control the small robots, to put them together or to remove individual elements again.

Kim's scientists consider the control and energy supply with the help of magnetic fields to be particularly promising, as magnetic fields have large ranges and can be used to easily transfer enormous amounts of energy. The effects of the magnetic fields on the body are only minimal, the researchers write in "Scientific Reports" this year (DOI: 10.1038 / srep30472). The bead-shaped nanorobots are the first model that can be changed so flexibly inside the body and is therefore suitable for both minimally invasive operations and for transporting medication. However, it has not yet been tested in the living organism and in clinical studies.

Origami from DNA

An equally promising approach is to create nanobots from harmless viral DNA, which is known as DNA origami. In the journal "Science", Professor Dr. George M. Church and his team in 2012 about such nanobots that circulate in the bloodstream and can specifically recognize and destroy cancer cells (DOI: 10.1126 / science.1214081). Inside the nanobots there are drugs that can be released when they come into contact with cancer cells. The nanobot has aptamers (short nucleotide strands with a special sequence) that recognize molecules on the tumor cell. Upon contact, they change their conformation and then release their cargo from the cavity inside.

With this method it could be possible to prevent the destruction of healthy cells and the immune system in cancer patients as far as possible and thus to improve the prognosis and the quality of life during treatment. These nanobots are now able to recognize up to twelve different types of cancer.

Remove again

The little robots are removed from the body with the help of magnets. However, nanobots made from biodegradable materials such as DNA are also tested. So far, the aforementioned nanobots are not yet fit for use in humans. Some challenges still need to be resolved before clinical trials can begin. But researchers around the world agree that nanobots have the potential to revolutionize medicine in the next two decades. /