Jan 14, 2009

One Step Closer To Nano-Medicine

Ever since physicist extraordinaire Richard P. Feynman proposed the creation of quantum computers, computers which process information through the oscillation of atoms or molecules, as opposed to microchip transistors, the dream of tiny, microscopic machines has run rampant through the nerd-kingdom.
One of the most promising and exciting ideas was to use these "nanomachines" in medicine. A microscopic machine, or millions of them, could be injected into the human body, and used for various capacities, from repairing damaged nerves on the molecular level, to reconnecting a severed brain-stem, to cutting out cancerous growth cell by cell. The implications of such a medicinal treatment would dwarf anything we currently use, making our anti-biotics and chemotherapy treatments seem as archaic as the old practice of "bleeding" patients to relieve the excess bad "humours" in the body.
Researchers in Spain and the U.K. have been working hard on one aspect of this, which wold be the micro-machines used to deliver medicine or other treatments to specific areas in the body.
many different mechanisms have been tried but no one had come up with a convenient "motor" by which to drive these micro-machines. These scientists say they have solved the problem though. They call their machines, "Micro swimmers." The following is an image of one such micro-machine, which the researchers are calling "Magnetically Actuated Colloidal Microswimmers."

Pietro Tierno and colleagues note that scientists tried for years to develop tiny engines that can move micro and nanomachines through tight spaces, such as blood vessels and lab-on-a chip devices. But existing engines are slow, difficult to maneuver, and must undergo alterations in their shape, chemistry or temperature in order to work. The design of simple, more practical engines to power these tiny, robotic machines remains a major challenge, the researchers say.
The scientists describe a solution — tiny beads, about 1/25,000 of an inch in diameter, made of plastic and magnetic materials. When exposed to a magnetic field, the particles spun like a gyroscope and could be easily directed to move though narrow channels of liquids inside a glass plate, the researchers say. The scientists could control the speed of the "microswimmers" by varying the strength of the magnetic field.
( Science Daily )

AMAZING! The future looks bright, get your shades ready.

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