Robots may soon swim within the body and be part of daily Medicare.
We have truly arrived in the future. I remember watching a film in 1987, ok maybe some of you weren’t born then, called Innerspace. The lead character Dennis Quaid is shrunk in a room sized submarine and injected into an unsuspecting individual. From there he enters the blood stream and starts to create havoc. Just imagine, if a microscopic machine could swim through the body and deliver medicine to a tumour. This could prevent a heart attack or stroke from happening. Well, a group of researchers are currently working on building miniature robots, called micro- swimmers, that will do exactly that. The robots will be so small that they will be less than 1 millimetre in size, possibly similar to a few grains of table salt.
Inserting miniature work-robots inside the body
At Drexel University in Philadelphia, a team is also working on nano-medic technology that is being considered for treatment focusing on drilling through clogged arteries. Atrial plaques form when fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances buildup on the inner walls of the arteries, which carry oxygenated blood throughout the body. Arterial plaque can reduce blood flow or in some instances block the artery altogether. Over time, the arteries will harden and narrow which leads to a condition called atherosclerosis. Currently, the conventional surgical approaches for blocked arteries are angioplasty and bypass surgery. An angioplasty opens blocked arteries and restores normal blood flow to your heart muscle. Whereas a surgeon takes blood vessels from another part of your body to go around, or bypass a blocked artery.
This new innovation in nano-medicine takes the form of small microbes that join together to make a corkscrew-like structure that is capable of navigating through the narrow passages of the vascular system. MinJun Kim, a professor in Drexel University College claims, that the micro-swimmers are made up of tiny iron beads that join together in a chain. The beads are composed of an inorganic material that will not trigger an immunological response, which is where your body produces antibodies as a defence mechanism.
It seems exciting times are certainly just around the corner in terms of nano-medical technology. Perhaps one day films like Innerspace will become a reality!