The burgeoning field of nanotechnology has many useful and direct applications for the medical industry, and nanorobots are no exception to this rule. The medical science wants to create nanobots that can repair damaged tissue without pain and trauma.
Many of the medical procedures we employ today are very traumatic to the human body and do not work in harmony with our natural systems.
Chemotherapy wreaks havoc on humans and nearly kills them in the quest to kill off their malignant cancer cells.
Invasive surgical procedures are also quite common today, with associated traumas that cause many patients to die on the operating table rather than survive and heal.
Nanorobots are so small that they actually interact on the same level as bacteria and viruses do, and so they are capable of building with the very particles of our bodies: atoms and molecules.
The ideal nanobot has not yet been fully realized, but when this microscopic robot makes its inevitable debut it will be hailed as a lifesaver by the world of medicine.
Some might say that today’s medical advances are more than enough and that mankind should leave room for natural processes. The fact of the matter is that artificial lifestyles have given rise to all kinds of ailments that absolutely require human interference for lifesaving purposes.
Surgery’s attendant risks are not only inherent in the cutting and sewing done by medical staff but include drug-related dangers as well. Patients may be allergic to anesthetics; their organs may become infected from a variety of surgery-related sources; during an organ transplant their body may mysteriously reject the new organ, leading to death; and in the case of a tumor operation, even a few microscopic missed cells can constitute complete failure to battle the cancer.
Simply put, surgeons are people—and people are far too large and clumsy to perform the types of fine-scale operations necessary for fixing the human body.
Drugs are little better when it comes to finesse. Although they do have the ability to interact specifically with the body’s molecules and cells, they operate by way of the circulatory system. Your bloodstream is an indiscriminate cycle that delivers its contents to many parts of the body.
Any drug administered will automatically affect areas of the body that are perfectly healthy, and significant doses will most likely cause unpleasant side effects. This means that the drug which is supposed to cure you may actually leave many parts of your body in worse shape than they were before. In this sense they have much the same blunt effect as a surgeon’s scalpel, no matter how refined the drug.
Nanorobots, on the other hand, will typically measure only about six atoms wide. It is anticipated that they could be equipped with all sorts of tools and cameras in order to furnish more extensive information about the human body. Not only that, but researchers expect that someday they will have refined the nanobot design to the point where nanobots can be remotely controlled in order to perform millions of useful tasks.
Among these is the ability to float neutrally through your bloodstream, identifying problem areas of your body and fixing them. Nanorobots could be used to clear built-up cholesterol from your arteries, thereby saving you from a heart attack. If the heart itself is damaged, they work their way up to the affected area and perform micro-surgery that you would probably not feel or notice, but which would almost certainly save your life.
When it comes to major unsolved diseases like cancer, nanorobots are perfect for eradicating malignant cells. Scientists are already hard at work on nanobots that can identify and destroy cancer at its growth site so that no trauma is inflicted anywhere else in the body.
The capabilities of nanobots include their function as replacement helper-T cells in a weakened immune system, thereby greatly benefiting victims of leukemia and AIDS as well as many other such terrible diseases.
More importantly, nanorobots’ ability to interact with materials in their most basic form may enable them to effectively rebuild or “regrow” damaged tissue. In the same way that a nanorobot would be able to remove microscopic particles of cholesterol or cancer, they would also be able to rebuild individual molecules to create a new tissue layer.
This could be particularly useful for accident victims and others whose tissue has been extensively damaged due to forceful trauma. In cases where a bone has been broken, researchers have already created a “nanobone” which has all the properties of natural bone but is also much stronger and more flexible. This invention naturally leads to the possibility of a nanobot going in and repairing shattered or missing bones a little at a time. It also presages innovations such as nanobots that can rebuild or replace bone marrow, making large strides towards curing leukemia.
Nanorobots could perform a variety of similarly miraculous functions, from eating away dead flesh at a wound site (a task which is currently performed by maggots in many cases) to actually re-growing tissue so that it heals cleanly and quickly without leaving a nasty scar. Some patients even have difficulties with festering wounds, which could be easily cleared up by an efficient medical nanorobot.
People with special needs and diseases would be among those to benefit immensely from such remedies; sufferers of hemophilia cannot normally clot well enough to heal and in some cases may even bleed to death when left at the mercy of today’s conventional medicine—but a specially-designed team of nanorobots could perhaps produce synthetic clotting material for their wound sites in order to stop the bleeding.
They could also perform delicate surgical functions such as closing a split vein or a gash at the same time. No one is really sure whether this would be more or less painful than traditional surgical methods, but for sufferers of anesthesia allergies and those who don’t handle surgery well because of issues like hemophilia, it could make a huge difference.
Regardless of the individual details, it seems clear that the advent of the nanobot is destined to change the face of medicine forever. Researchers anticipate having a functional nanobot up and running in the next 25 years.