Emerging Healthcare Ecosystems: Nanodevices


Nanorobots are nanodevices that will be used for the purpose of maintaining and protecting the human body against pathogens. They will have a diameter of about 0.5 to 3 microns and will be constructed out of parts with dimensions in the range of 1 to 100 nanometers. Such devices have been designed in recent years but no working model has been built so far.

The powering of the nanorobots can be done by metabolizing local glucose and oxygen for energy.In a clinical environment, another option would be externally supplied acoustic energy.

Other sources of energy within the body can also be used to supply the necessary energy for the devices.They will have simple onboard computers capable of performing around 1000 or fewercomputations per second. This is because their computing needs are simple.

Communication with the device can be achieved by broadcast-type acoustic signaling.A navigational network may be installed in the body, with station keeping navigational elements providing high positional accuracy to all passing nanorobots that interrogate them, wanting to know their location. This will enable the physician to keep track of the various devices in the body.

These nanorobots will be able to distinguish between different cell types by checking their surface antigens (they are different for each type of cell). This is accomplished by the use of chemotactic sensors keyed to the specific antigens on the target cells.

When the task of the nanorobots iscompleted, they can be retrieved by allowing them to exfuse themselves via the usual human excretory channels. They can also be removed by active scavenger systems.

Some possible applications using nanorobots are as follows: --To cure skin diseases, a cream containing nanorobots may be used. It could remove the right amount of dead skin, remove excess oils, add missing oils, apply the right amounts of natural moisturizing compounds, and even achieve the elusive goal of deep pore cleaning by actually reaching down into pores and cleaning them out. The cream could be a smart material with smooth-on, peel-off convenience. --A mouthwash full of smart nanomachines could identify and destroy pathogenic bacteria while allowing the harmless flora of the mouth to flourish in a healthy ecosystem.

Further, the devices would identify particles of food, plaque, or tartar, and lift them from teeth to be rinsed away. Being suspended in liquid and able to swim about, devices would be able to reach surfaces beyond reach of toothbrush bristles or the fibers of floss.

As short-lifetime medical nanodevices, they could be built to last only a few minutes in the body before falling apart into materials of the sort found in foods (such as fiber). --Medical nanodevices could augment the immune system by finding and disabling unwanted bacteria and viruses. When an invader is identified, it can be punctured, letting its contents spill out and ending its effectiveness. If the contents were known to be hazardous by themselves, then the immune machine could hold on to it long enough to dismantle it more completely