I’d like to welcome you to our new Tech of the Week column, where I will look at upcoming technologies each week. To kick things off I have chosen to write a Medtech piece, focusing on nanotechnology. Specifically the nanobot, that kills cancerous tumours.
According to an article published on Nature Biotechnology, their new technology has a “DNA aptamer that binds nucleolin… and the blood coagulation protease thrombin.” This serves “both as a targeting domain and as a molecular trigger for the mechanical opening of the DNA nanorobots”.
That’s right, these DNA nanobots target the tumours and immediately get to work. Scientists are injecting them into the body, via syringe, at a staggering 10 trillion nanobots per injection.
How Does the Nanobot Technology Work?
The non-human trials have proven the Artificial Intelligence’s potential by not causes clots in other parts of the body. They solely hit and starve the cancerous cells they were aiming for. Apparently, scientists also demonstrated the nanobot’s ability to ignore healthy tissues on its way to its objective. Most tumours work in the same way, so successful blood clotting in one cancer should replicate effectively across all cancers.
The technology works as follows:
Imagine you have a rectangle of cloth, and inside are all of the drugs necessary to encourage tumour death. DNA is then used to “sew” the rectangle shut, only opening when coming in contact with a trigger. The trigger is a chemical signature found only on the outside of the cancerous tumours. Once it hits this the package opens up and delivers the payload.
After injecting the site with healing medicines, the nanobot coats the inner walls of the blood vessel with a clotting protein. In turn, this cuts off the blood supply and thrombosis of the tumour occurs; shrivelling up and killing it.
You don’t need to understand all the medical terms to see this technology has vast potential in us living longer as a species. I’m not advocating the living forever dream, but this would be of benefit to every single one of us in one form or another.
The most exciting part of this breakthrough is its success in mice with human tumours. The trials the life expectancy of the mice over double as a result of this treatment. It should be noted, that the process behind the technology works better in some cases than it does others. Tumours with a strong supply of blood, for example, those found in melanoma, are standing a better chance at totally regressing. In the melanoma trials, 3 out of the 8 mice tested showed completed regression.
There have been second trials on a larger specimen, the Bama miniature pigs. Sharing anatomical and physiological similarities with humans makes these animals the perfect stepping stone towards approval of human trials. Although more work needs to be done before this can happen.
Whilst this isn’t a particularly new idea, trials involving DNA manipulation in cockroaches were conducted back in 2012, it has certainly come on leaps and bounds. Even as recent as 2016, scientific documentation noted that AI bots were a thing of the future. Technology at the time hadn’t progressed to what we see here today, using purely organic methods to conduct trials.
Potential for the Future
The potential for this treatment reaches beyond just cancer. It could be used to treat a range of ailments, from the likes of asthma to arteries narrowing from a build-up of fatty deposits. Technically the nanobots could visit parts of the brain and, using neural pattern identification, deliver solutions to mental health problems. Of course, this kind of treatment is far off in its infant stages, but changing the drugs onboard, as well as the key that unlocks the package, has a vast reaching impact.
Due to risk factors such as a nanobot going into the brain of the patient and causing a stroke, it could need some refining before we see human trials approved. Nevertheless, this is an exciting breakthrough in the fight against cancer.
Next in the series, Wednesday 28th February 2018
Tech of the Week #2: Iron Man Style E-Skin
With advances in Augmented Reality coming along further and further each day. We are now looking at electronic skin that can manipulate devices around you, from the physical lightbulb to a virtual architecture plan. Be like Tony Stark with this ultra-thin, 1.7-μm-thick polyimide foil, wearable technology…
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