By Louis Fourie Nov 2, CAPE TOWN — In the next decade or two, the blood of people will very likely be full of tiny nanobots that will assist in preventing them from falling ill. When injected into our bodies, the nanobots will protect the physiological system on a molecular level to ensure a healthy and long life. In the nanomedicine age different kinds of nanobots will increasingly be used as very accurate drug-delivery systems, cancer treatment tools or miniscule surgeons. Microbivores, or artificial white blood cells, are essentially nanorobotic phagocytes cells that remove unwanted substances and pathogens.
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Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed tiny ultrasound-powered robots that can swim through blood, removing harmful bacteria along with the toxins they produce. These proof-of-concept nanorobots could one day offer a safe and efficient way to detoxify and decontaminate biological fluids. Researchers built the nanorobots by coating gold nanowires with a hybrid of platelet and red blood cell membranes.
This hybrid cell membrane coating allows the nanorobots to perform the tasks of two different cells at once -- platelets, which bind pathogens like MRSA bacteria an antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus , and red blood cells, which absorb and neutralize the toxins produced by these bacteria. The gold body of the nanorobots responds to ultrasound, which gives them the ability to swim around rapidly without chemical fuel.
This mobility helps the nanorobots efficiently mix with their targets bacteria and toxins in blood and speed up detoxification. Wang's team developed the ultrasound-powered nanorobots, and Zhang's team invented the technology to coat nanoparticles in natural cell membranes. The coating also protects the nanorobots from a process known as biofouling -- when proteins collect onto the surface of foreign objects and prevent them from operating normally. Researchers created the hybrid coating by first separating entire membranes from platelets and red blood cells.
They then applied high-frequency sound waves to fuse the membranes together. Since the membranes were taken from actual cells, they contain all their original cell surface protein functions. To make the nanorobots, researchers coated the hybrid membranes onto gold nanowires using specific surface chemistry.
The nanorobots are about 25 times smaller than the width of a human hair. They can travel up to 35 micrometers per second in blood when powered by ultrasound. In tests, researchers used the nanorobots to treat blood samples contaminated with MRSA and their toxins. After five minutes, these blood samples had three times less bacteria and toxins than untreated samples. The work is still at an early stage.
Researchers note that the ultimate goal is not to use the nanorobots specifically for treating MRSA infections, but more generally for detoxifying biological fluids. Future work includes tests in live animals. The team is also working on making nanorobots out of biodegradable materials instead of gold. Materials provided by University of California - San Diego. Note: Content may be edited for style and length. Science News. Hybrid biomembrane—functionalized nanorobots for concurrent removal of pathogenic bacteria and toxins.
Science Robotics , ; 3 18 : eaat DOI: ScienceDaily, 31 May University of California - San Diego. Cell-like nanorobots clear bacteria and toxins from blood. Retrieved June 5, from www. The advance was made possible by creating soft, tubular actuators whose movements are electrically Rather than trying to make a machine understand complex ethical Below are relevant articles that may interest you.
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Artificial blood is a product made to act as a substitute for red blood cells. While true blood serves many different functions, artificial blood is designed for the sole purpose of transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body. Depending on the type of artificial blood, it can be produced in different ways using synthetic production, chemical isolation, or recombinant biochemical technology. Development of the first blood substitutes dates back to the early s, and the search for the ideal blood substitute continues. Various manufacturers have products in clinical trials; however, no truly safe and effective artificial blood product is currently marketed. Blood is a special type of connective tissue that is composed of white cells, red cells, platelets, and plasma.
Respirocytes are hypothetical, microscopic, artificial red blood cells that are intended to emulate the function of their organic counterparts, so as to supplement or replace the function of much of the human body's normal respiratory system. Respirocytes were proposed by Robert A. Respirocytes are an example of molecular nanotechnology , a field of technology still in the very earliest, purely hypothetical phase of development. Current technology is not sufficient to build a respirocyte due to considerations of power, atomic-scale manipulation, immune reaction or toxicity , computation and communication.
OPINION: Soon we may have nanobots in our bloodstream
Video Source: National Cancer Institute. Nanorobots are a promising new technology that has several potential uses. However, most of the applications that we have so far considered have revolved around medicine. One such case is in the field of haematology, which is the science of blood and blood diseases. One main application of nanobots is to emulate red blood cells. This design would allow the robots to pass into the smallest capillaries and ensure much more efficient delivery of oxygen to tissue than is possible with organic red cells.