Half a century back, sci-fi movies were on the rise. Starting from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Robinson Crusoe on Mars to Dark Star and the Time Machine, the viewers were amazed and enthralled at what the future would hold for the human race. The 1966 Hollywood movie, Fantastic Voyage, paved the way for an important scientific discovery this decade that will positively change human health in the coming years.

Credits: Gizmodo

In the movie, a submarine crew that is shrunk to microscopic size, venture into an injured scientist’s body to remove a harmful blood clot that had damaged his brain. As the genre of the movie suggests, the concept of shrinking machines (or even humans in that case!) is fictitious but a breakthrough discovery in this decade proves otherwise. Nanobots or nanorobots are machines and robots of the size of 10-9 meters that can be programmed to implement certain tasks. In a study by researchers at the Department of Nanoengineering of the University of California, San Diego, nanobots programmed to carry and dispense drugs within the body of a living creature were successful in their task. In their experiment, the nanobots delivered the drugs to parts of the body which were otherwise difficult to access without causing any harmful side-effects.

Credits: Dimension Studios

In later attempts by scientists from the Arizona State University and China’s National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, these nanobots were able to shrink tumors in mice by blocking their blood supply. Science fiction became a scientific discovery, shall we say? Irrespective of their exiguous size, they are just as efficient as all the robots that work in factories or assist in complicated surgeries. Nanobots offer a promising future for medicine by reaching target areas in the body which are generally complicated to reach, without causing any sort of ill after-effects. These bots can be used as a new alternative to treating cancer where existing treatments are susceptible to causing harmful effects, reduce plaque in veins, solve dietary issues, and even perform complicated surgeries without cutting open the body. Researchers have also shown that these bots have the ability to accurately reach the target sites and penetrate deep into diseased tissue to deliver drugs more efficiently.


Recent advancements in nanotechnology indicate that relatively soon the smaller-than-tiny robots might be capable of more than drug delivery; they could help detect diseases and even repair or manipulate damaged cells, potentially providing humans with longer lifespans.


Scientists Test Out Tiny Robots Meant to Travel Inside a Human Body – Smithsonian Magazine

As technology goes on to improve with every passing day, robots will likely most play an imperative role in healthcare and the future of human beings. That said, humankind could perhaps find solutions to incurable diseases with advancements in the field of nano-robotics.

Author

Arunima Sen is from Bangalore, India. She interested in all things STEM and when Sen not working on research projects, collaborating with international students, or working on something cool, she can be found trying out different restaurants in town or running behind dogs.

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