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Biotech Robotics Technology

Nanorobots for Drug Delivery? 69

Roland Piquepaille writes "The idea of using nanorobots to deliver drugs and fight diseases such as cancers is not new. But there are still lots of issues to solve before nanorobots can diagnose our diseases and treat them. Now, an international team of researchers has designed a software and hardware platform of a nanorobot to be used in medical applications. The researchers think their nanorobots could become available around 2015. 'The proposed platform should enable patient pervasive monitoring, and details are given in prognosis with nanorobots application for intracranial treatments. This integrated system also points towards precise diagnosis and smart drug delivery for cancer therapy.'"
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Nanorobots for Drug Delivery?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:08PM (#21627487)
    Anyone have this nanobot's pager number?
  • Terrorism (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 )
    Imagine Al Quida putting a Beowulf Cluster of these in a politician or world leader, making them do strange and dangerous things.......wait a second!
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Block an artery on command- cause a stroke-- blackmail with that threat. Hell, once these things exist, you could claim you've injected someone and theyd never know...
  • Ow, come on. Nobody would use this as a weapon.
  • In the article they mention, "The use of mobile phones with RF is adopted in this platform as the most effective approach for control upload, helping to interface nanorobots communication and energy supply." Thats just gonna roll over real nicely in our RF saturated world. Heck, a cellphone call might cause these things to kill people or a grey goo, end of the world scenario. Anyway this is not recent work, they have been simulating virtual nanobots for sometime now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Falstius ( 963333 )
      Considering how quickly cellphone frequencies (900MHz and up) are absorbed by tissue, I don't see how this is a viable solution. Most implanted devices communicate at 100MHz or less. There is a 400MHz band available for these types of applications, but I haven't seen it widely used yet. The article has pretty much zero details but it looks like the guy does purely conceptual work and should be taken with a grain of salt.

      Anyway, the real problem with these things is how to power them. Once we have nano

      • Once we have nanorobots that work off blood sugar, that will be exciting. That might be a good time to become paranoid too.
        The question that comes to my mind: Who'll be the first to sponsor this research, Coke or Pepsi?

        • The makers of Splenda will probably push through a law banning the research of sugar eating nanobots in the name of "protecting the children."
      • Oh come on even a mobile processor sucks up 20 watts or some, to get a cpu shrunk down to fit in a "nanobot" the circuit traces would have to be smaller than electrons! If i had an antimatter reactor strapped to my back I'd have a plasma rifle like in Doom then I'd shrink down like in "Fantastic Voyage" and just blast the cancer manually! It's all science-fantasy designed to suck up gullible grant money, pure hucksterism.
    • Well, to start with your concern, it's actually pretty easy to put a patient in a Farrady cage, isn't it?

      That said, I'm getting tired of "nano" news whose only connection to the topic is that they too want the buzzword that bríngs in teh big grant bucks.

      To it, a nano-bot was supposed to be a bit more complex a bit of hardware. You know, stuff that actually resembles -- in any form or shape -- a little autonomous robot.

      The closest we have to a natural nano-bot is a Ribosome []. It actually interprets a "ta
      • Quick question. If this does come to pass by 2050 instead of consistently selling vapor ware. Is anyone aware that there's a game that predicts this stuff in a cute / liquid format? I believe you may have heard of it. Deus Ex. Very neat story that ties in all this lovely stuff with another lovely story... that of the so called "NWO", but it doesn't go by that name, in that world, the United Nations Anti Terrorist COalition has declared war on any group that doesn't follow orders. The USA has been spli
        • Hmm... no offense, but this is almost as hard to read as my spam folder. I can't even tell what your point really is, there, so I'll just address bits and pieces that stand out at a quick eye-scan.

          1. Barium. Barium itself is indeed very toxic, and not just by being a heavy metal. Barium carbonate is used as a rat poison.

          The stuff they give you before X-rays, though, is Barium Sulphate. It's saving grace is that it's almost completely non-soluble and not absorbed by your body. So it just ends up going out th
          • I hear what you're saying.

            Vaporware advertised as the real thing.

            I wasn't arguing your point :) I was actually just providing similar sources and other related and unrelated info :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does this mean I will no longer have to stuff balloons in my ass?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      balloons in the ass are a good high? filled or unfilled? air or helium? thx!
  • by GravitonMan ( 1145905 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:26PM (#21627613)
    But seriously, it is ridiculous for these reporters to make such outlandish claims about nanotechnology. Its been 15 years since nanoparticle drug delivery was tested in cells, and we are just beginning phase 1 clinical trials in germany and US on magnetic nanoparticles. Regardless of the FDA implications of nanobots, the actual impact will be very small in the next 20 years, perhaps it could report of blood pressure or flow rate using RFID, but its not going to have robotic arms that will wield a sword and evicerate a cancer cell.

    • I take it you noticed the lack of any actual information in TFA. I don't think they gave any actual answers during the entire article. The graphics were the kind I could do myself without any effort.

      It would be nice to think that they could have something ready for trials in 2015, but I would be surprised if it was that soon. I think that you're far more realistic about this than the article.

      Of course I could, and would love to, be wrong about this.
      • I went through to the abstract [], but didn't get much wiser. I might be able to read the article at work if they have the iop subscription, but I might as well just skip that, the abstract gave me a buzzword overload already and did not contain any specific information at all. What are they supposed to be made off?

        Being "raised" as a scientist myself, I understand why articles like this are written. Most science is done "in the dark", outside of anyone's understanding, and it needs flashy press releases tha

        • Exactly, I got my undergrad in the natural sciences, and I tend to not have much problem reading through science articles, but it does tend to bug me when there isn't anything there. Worse still when I have to pay to read a journal article to figure out what they're talking about.

          It can be useful to go public with research in progress, but as you pointed out, it needs to be realistic. Speculating a bit about what it can lead to tends to be a necessity for anybody that wants funding, but setting up these kin
    • Technology advancement does not proceed at a steady pace... advancement is always accelerating and there is a steady acceleration in cross-polination and convergence among the sciences as well. It's good to be concervative with estimates, but no one on the edge, especially those who are in it to make a buck in an ever quickening environment, would be so quick to discount possibilities. Many surprises ahead.
  • by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:27PM (#21627625)
    But isn't this how the Borg assimilate people? by injecting nano-robots into the jugular vein of your neck and then the machines attack your Renal glands, central nervous system and brain? How long before treating sickness becomes routine optimization? In general the machines believe they are doing the Humans they assimilate a favor by repairing damage and making enhancements to bodily organs.
    • by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:36PM (#21627677)
      This is the geekiest post I've ever seen on slashdot. I have tears of sublime joy in my eyes right now, you made my night.
      • If you think that's geeky you should read more posts. There are some that come out near incomprehensible, even to people familiar with a certain field (but not experts).

        Most of the time, unless we are talking about some esoteric computer topic, a lot of people realize that their area of expertise may not be everyone else's and they try to either keep buzzwords out altogether or they will provide links (usually to Wikipedia) to help explain their posts.
    • by Plazmid ( 1132467 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:37PM (#21627689)
      Man, the borg sure do have a good health care plan, where do I sign up?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.

        The Borg
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by fmobus ( 831767 )

          Please turn in your geek id. They don't say "surrender your ships", they say "surrender your vessel(s)".

          Yours truly,
          The Nazi Geek-Quotes Patrol

          ps.: and yeah, like them, I find the word "vessel" much cooler than "ship".

    • Oh, really!? ./me starts injecting nanites into his penis...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)


      The BORG strive for perfection, not assisting other species. They have no need to justify their actions to any inferior species. But you are correct that in Startrek the BORG use nanomachines to assimilate other species into the collective or in the case of species 8472 it was used as a weapon to supress the retalitory invasion of species 8472 after the BORG invaded fluidic space. Which actually is sort of an application of nanotechnology-
    • if this is true, I hope for everyone's sake that these are ran by Linux.
    • We all know that this will actually work. We don't have to worry about drug resistence in disease because resistence is futile!
  • Slow advances (Score:2, Insightful)

    Willian Illsey Atkinson wrote a book called nanocosm. I didn't find it that great a read, but he goes on to say that people have misconceptions of what nanobots would be like and how they would work, if we ever make them and get them to work. We have slow progress when it comes to making nanobots to cure illnesses mainly because we have many poeple touting the great potential, but we have very few people willing to learn quantum mechanics and biology. Instead, you have medical doctors who think you can bui
  • Brilliant ! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Joebert ( 946227 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:32PM (#21627653) Homepage
    The Man will never catch those little guys. It's probably going to take me a year to get a buz though.
  • ...for the skank bastards to deliver my four ounces. Look, I don't care how many of 'em it takes.
  • Yesterday I learned about the existence of the 2007 nanotechnology roadmap []. Contact me for related ZIP file.
  • This must give Ray kurzweil a huge boner 8===>
  • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @08:50PM (#21628017)
    Cool! Just in time for cold fusion power!

    And Duke Nukem Forever, you know. Gotta do something while those little fellas get their work done.
  • SDK please? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Zarf ( 5735 )
    Are these nanobots going to have a Posix environment or are we to use something like a Java ME ... Java Nano Edition? Are they going to have an x86 compatible machine code language? The article is so light on details. No processor specs, not even a mention of what version of networking these things support. How am I supposed to build a Beowolf cluster of these?
    • Dude, if these buggers can be hacked and RF to communicate and upload code that can influence organs and glands in the body, I could envision a wireless device that would bring about the right response when you get to the bar and find that amazingly hot babe. Just imagine, the worst pickup line is only used to provide enough time to upload the code and release the chemicals in her body. You can continue this thought and potential...
  • Too bad they don't have a physicist on the team to inform them of the basic and irreducible problems of scale. In that arena surface tension dwarfs any mechanical device that can be forseen. And nature has built millions of models of nanorobots although their time-to-market has been less than exemplary.
  • I already have have drugs delivered to my door. That's good enough for me. Can we call these things "narcorobots"?
  • Reread the summary and article, replacing "nanorobots" with "nanoprobes"...
  • You can look at his web page at [], which I recall seeing on Slashdot before. The paper he is talking about in the interview is the top one on the page. You can get it from IOP (yes, bugmenot has the password). The paper is nothing but pure speculation on methods and has no implementable design ideas. He spends much on fantasy scenarios of what we could do if we had a little robot like that, and they are not too unreasonable except for the fact that he, like all the other nanotechnologi
  • by raddan ( 519638 ) on Sunday December 09, 2007 @01:21PM (#21632087)
    I suspect that pervasive monitoring, not disease treatment, will end up being the big gain with nano-devices. The starting point for diagnosis at the moment is a patient's description of the symptoms. A person with bio-sensors "installed" will allow a doctor to examine a patient's vital signs directly-- I think this will help to greatly improve a doctor's initial diagnosis, because symptoms are often not a good indicator of what is happening. And the best thing about this kind of device is that it will allow testing to happen over a period of time. Were you to give these to healthy people, you could also establish a "baseline" to compare against when they are in ill health in the future.

    There are some obvious privacy concerns here, but were bio-sensors to be inserted in a large number of people, this would greatly benefit epidemiology. That's an application of nano-technology that I would like to see happen, and I think it would revolutionize medical knowledge.
  • I work on nano-bio technology, and I really don't see how his program is going to help me with any of the real problems associated with making useful medical devices. I don't need another visualization program, or ideas of what nanotechnology can do.

    We need access to better lithography equipment, nanostructure growth, optical sensors and other mundane, macro scale equipment. Oh, and we need more funding and time to figure out how nanoelectronics interacts with hundreds (thousands?) of biological processes
  • My Sig is becoming out of date.
  • Hmmmm no details whatsoever about the actual harware or software architectures. Not even a single picture of a single molecular sized anything. I call BS.
  • I wonder if it's really possible to inject ourselves with nanorobots that would continuously repair our bodies...

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun