If you are a fan of the hit TV show “Revolution,” you might have an idea of what nanobots are. Just like the bots in “Revolution,” the latest and greatest technology utilizing nanobots is actually being developed to target tumors or mend tissue, essentially revolutionizing modern healthcare and science.

 

According to Yahoo! News,

“At the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, Ido Bachelet led a team of scientists in building tiny robots that can respond to chemical cues and operate inside a living animal. More than that, they can operate as logic gates, essentially acting as real computers.”

 

Image created by Campbell Strong, Shawn Douglas, and Gael McGill using Molecular Maya and cadnano. Courtesy Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University (news.yahoo.com)

Image created by Campbell Strong, Shawn Douglas, and Gael McGill using Molecular Maya and cadnano. Courtesy Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University (news.yahoo.com)

While even the idea of computers that can mend tissue and target tumors is incredible, it is really the innovative way scientists have developed to make this happen. It is called “DNA origami.” DNA is usually found in a double-helix shape. In order to create these nanobots, however, scientists are creating unique shapes of DNA in order to make it programmable.

 

Specifically in this new technology, scientists are creating a box-like shape with a lid that opens and interacts with certain chemical compounds.

 

To begin testing this technique, scientists injected a cockroach (specifically, Blaberus discoidalis) with four different types of these DNA origami “boxes” — “E,” “P1,” “P2,” and “N.” Inside each “box” was another chemical, which recognized the hemolymph cells (these are the cockroach’s version of white blood cells) and then bind to the blood cells.

 

Each different DNA origami “boxes” or robots carried different “keys” — think of them as the computer keys — to open up the “E” robot in the presence of one or more chemical cues found inside the other robots.

 

In simple terms, the “E” robot is the main function, the “P1” and “P2” act as the separate gates that you might find in a computer (the AND/OR gate system), and the “N” robots are like the back button (or NOT gate) on a computer. The combination of these “keys” make a functional computer that can then be programmed to do logical operations.

 

This research is the first time scientists have demonstrated this particular type of logic system in  any living animal.

 

There are still a few questions that need to be answered; most importantly, how many nanomachines are needed in a given space (or organism)? A lot more work in a wide variety of animals is required before these nanobots get to the clinical trials.

 

What do you think of this new technology? Are you excited to see how this technology progresses? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @kateeb790!