Nano-robotics may help cure cancer

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Elizabeth Suggs | Staff Writer


This year, Ido Bachelet of Israel’s Bar-IIan University and colleagues hope to test nanobots on a leukemia patient, with the nanobots acting as white blood cells.  The patient targeted has only a few months to live, and Bachelet plans to cure the patient in a month.

Cancer is a disease of uncontrollable cells that form abnormal cells in the body. Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the bone marrow and other blood-forming organs by producing abnormal or mature numbers of leukocytes in the body.

Rather than undergoing chemotherapy or other harmful procedures while curing cancer, nanobots will be injected and act independently of doctor or patient.

Although chemotherapy is an effective treatment for cancer, it’s still a poison. Chemotherapy is designed to target active and growing cells. While cancer cells are targeted in this process, so are normal, healthy cells. Side effects from chemotherapy are severe and according to the site, not only will patients lose their hair, but will feel fatigue, pain, sores in the mouth and throat, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, constipation, etc.

“My aunt had cancer. She was miserable the whole time,” said Kristin Santa Maria, UVU student.

Explained in a 2012 Science paper by Bachelet and colleagues, the nanobot is programmed to recognize and target cells based on surface proteins.

Once targeted, the nanobot will deliver deadly drugs or nanoparticles that will then destroy the cancer. In previous human trials, half of the cancer cells were destroyed in three days. None of the healthy cells were harmed. This would be a huge improvement when dealing with cancer.

“[Chemotherapy] depends on how strong a patient is. [Nanobots] would be good. Then, we wouldn’t lose important cells.” said Cierra Brown, UVU student.

One concern is that if programmed correctly, nanobots could target healthy cells.

“There will always be bad people in the world.” Santa Maria said. “You can have bad apples, but then you find them and remove them.”