Scientists recently developed nanobots or nano-sized robots and vehicles capable of navigating through blood vessels to deliver drugs in the fight against certain illnesses.
A Nanowerk report said, nanobots are navigating through blood vessels to reach the area of an illness and could be used when delivering drugs to tumors or cancers that are otherwise a challenge to treat.
Once the drugs are swallowed or injected, most of them are dependent on the movement of body fluids to find their way around the body. Meaning, some types of the illness can be a struggle to treat efficiently in this manner.
For example, one aggressive type of brain tumor called glioblastoma, as explained in Mayo Clinic, is claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each year.
However, due to the fact that it creates finger-like projections into the brain tissue of patients that impair the blood vessel around them, it is difficult for medications to reach the tumor area.
According to Professor Daniel Ahmed, who currently leads the Acoustic Robotics Systems Lab at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, if one has particles injected into the body, these particles will follow the blood.
Instead, the researchers turn to nanodevices, tiny robots, and vehicles to deliver drugs around the body in a manageable manner. However, first, they need to discover how to drive them.
Professor Ahmed explained, nanoparticles are ten times tinier than red blood cells, and if one uses passive particles, there is no way they can be regulated or managed.
To address this, Phys.org said in a similar report, Ahmed, together with his colleagues, in what the titled as "SONOBOTs" project is using ultrasound to control nanodevices that transport cancer-killing drugs.
Ultrasound technology is usually operated by doctors in medical imaging because of the way high-frequency sound waves are bouncing off different body parts, which can be used to produce an image.
Ahmed and his colleagues have shown, though, that they can lead an air bubble enclosed with a polymer shell, as well as an imaging chemical, enabling it to be seen through the use of an ultrasound.
The scientists call these small vehicles nanoswimmers due to their capability of moving forward through a liquid.
Such sound waves are pushing clusters of these nanoswimmers in the direction of the vessel walls. This force, nevertheless, is robust enough to impact the motion of red blood cells that in the blood.
Unlike the nanoswimmers in the SONOBOTs project, the nanorobots being devised under ANGIE Project are described as more sophisticated when it comes to the manner they are controlled.
Professor Salvador Pané, one of the researchers of the said project, said, the conventional mechanisms for swimming are not working on the nano-scale that if one wants to attempt to crawl, say, the swimming stroke, and apply it at a nanoscale, "it won't work."
To address this, the team of scientists is using magnetic fields to regulate the nano-sized structures containing magnetic films or particles.
Pané compared such particles to a robotic arm found on an industrial assembly line. While industrial robots utilize a computer-regulated arm to move a gripper at the end around, in the ANGIE nanorobots' case, the so-called "arm" is the magnetic field moving the magnetic nanorobots around.
Nanodevices provide a promising way to target illness treatment, and something that Prof. Ahmed of SONOBOTs thinks will be a reality in the near future.
At first, he explained, when they spoke to medical doctors about the ideas, they thought it was excessively science fiction, although as the study data grows, he added, "they are coming around."
Related information is shown on the Institute for MolecularBioscience's YouTube video below:
Check out more news and information on Nanotechnology in Science Times.