3 Medical Nanobots that are Going to Make All of Us Healthier

Many of us hear the term “medical nanobots,” and we picture something from the land of science fiction. But this is not the case anymore.

In fact, we are witnessing some incredible progress with these new microscopic machines, or nanomachines, in the field of medicine and healthcare. And we are not talking about R2-D2 taking out gallbladders either.

Robotics is making a huge splash all through science, especially in healthcare. It’s pretty exciting to see engineering, biomedical science, and medicine come together for these exciting nanobot projects.

Nanobots in medicine

Perhaps the scariest aspect of nanotechnology in humans is the thought of these tiny microbots measuring only a few micrometers having the ability to enter the human body. But this is precisely how experts see nanobots in medicine for the future.

Obviously, this vision comes with many challenges. Let us examine three ways that these tiny medical nanobots will revolutionize the field of healthcare and medicine.

Precise surgery

Over the past decade or so, massive progress has been achieved in reducing the invasiveness of surgeries. These tiny medical nanomachines would be able to enter the body through small puncture holes that are the size of an injection.

This allows them to reach locations that are very difficult to treat with traditional methods.

One very promising type of miniature nanobot is referred to as “microgrippers.” These microscopic machines can locate and retrieve cells and tissues. As a type of tethered tool, they are controlled by electrical or mechanical signals. This concept has been around for a while, but it has been limited due to size and other restrictions. Nanotechnology has made it viable again.

Another type of medical nanobot that is magnetically controlled demonstrates promise. This is because magnetic fields have the ability to penetrate thick tissues. Researchers have been able to carry out surgery within the eyeball of a living rabbit using this type of tool.

Targeted delivery of drugs

While nanotechnologists have been working on the idea of drug delivery for some time, existing approaches depend on the body’s natural ability to circulate in order to get medicine delivered to the needed area.

However, when using miniature nanobots, these drugs can reach the proper destination more accurately and much faster. This not only makes drugs more effective, but it will also reduce side effects.

One approach that has become popular in circulating drugs in the body is using chemical nanomotors. These microscopic particles can break down into a chemical fuel that creates bubbles that will propel the medicine along.

Until recently, these nanomotors only existed in test tubes. In vivo experiments have become more commonplace, and some remarkable results involving synthetic motors driven by biological fluids like water or gastric acid have been observed.

Furthermore, most of these solutions will degrade into substances that are non-toxic, which means there’s no worry about removing or retrieving them once they’ve completed their mission.

Detoxification and sensing

When a microscopic nanomotor is combined with the proper fuel, it will keep moving. This continual motion process makes these medical nanobots very useful in hastening the detection of specific compounds within a solution and removing toxins.

Suppose a bioreceptor was attached to an active nanomotor. It could ultimately collide with its target molecule much quicker than normal circulation. In that case, this means the solution would be self-mixing.

Therefore, these tiny devices can be designed to have the power to both detect and move target cells, while other little devices could be small enough to operate within cells. Think of the possibilities here.

Future challenges

While the results of using nanobots in medicine sound very promising, some challenging obstacles must be overcome. For one, many nanomotors in the lab setting are using hydrogen peroxide as fuel, which is not biocompatible.

There have been several promising applications regarding the use of nanobots in surgery with the assistance of magnetic and ultrasound fields. But these depend on nanomotors to act autonomously, with no human intervention.

This means that enzymes must be able to power themselves using chemicals naturally found in bodily fluids. Considerable work is still needed to reach this objective.

Finally, we must not forget that biological environments are incredibly unpredictable. Not only this, their conditions are in a constant state of flux. This means that both materials and nanodevice must be multifunctional and fault-tolerant.