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BIOLOGICAL NANOBOT RESPONDS TO DNA SIGNALS: NEW MEANING TO …

Nanotechnology has taken another significant step in the technology tree to becoming a reality for medicinal (and other) purposes, according to this article shared by Mr. V.K.:

Shape-shifting molecular robots respond to DNA signals

Note some intriguing things here, from the beginning of the article:

A research group at Tohoku University and Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has developed a molecular robot consisting of biomolecules, such as DNA and protein. The molecular robot was developed by integrating molecular machines into an artificial cell membrane. It can start and stop its shape-changing function in response to a specific DNA signal.

This is the first time that a molecular robotic system has been able to recognize signals and control its shape-changing function. What this means is that molecular robots could, in the near future, function in a way similar to living organisms.

According to the article, this little nano-bot is only one millionth of a meter in diameter. This may seem significant, until one recalls in his 1986 nanotechnology classic, Engines of Creation, Eric Drexler noted that IBM had been successful in spelling its name with 35 xenon atoms, and, even more breathtakingly, AT&T had constructed the first artificial atom. That was in 1986!

But to return to the article, why is a shape-changing nanobot significant? The answer:

The realization of a molecular robot whose components are designed at a molecular level and who can function in a small and complicated environment, such as the human body, is expected to significantly expand the possibilities of robotics engineering. The results of this study could lead to technological developments that could help solve important medical issues — such as a treatment robot for live culturing cells and a monitoring robot for checking environmental pollution.

“The paper by Nomura and coworkers represents a major step towards the development of autonomous soft microrobots,” says Dr. Friedrich Simmel, professor at the Technische Universität München. “Based on this achievement, in the future similar systems could be developed that display artificial phototaxis or chemotaxis, or similar ‘intelligent’ behavior.”

Indulging in a bit of high octane speculation, one can envision that such technologies could be made to change shape and latch onto various pathogens, which have their own peculiar shapes that some believe allows then to attack human cells; AIDS and cancer cells could thus, by the DNA signals that they give, attract such nanobots which could then attach themselves to the disease cells and literally attack them, injecting them with terminal drugs. In short, a major step in the technology tree has been taken, proven, and the door is open to modifications of the basic technology that would conceivably usher in a very new and very different kind of chemotherapy.

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