A science fiction movie from 1966 is now close to reality. ‘Fantastic Voyage’ revolves around a miniaturization technology that the Americans and the Soviets are scrambling to perfect. Benes, a brilliant scientist, who possesses priceless information to perfecting this theory is nearly assassinated with a blood clot in his brain that no surgery can remove from the outside. Desperate to save his life to unlock the secrets in his head, a team of scientists and surgeons are set on a nerve wrecking adventure. They are placed in a submarine, which is shrunken into microscopic size and injected into his blood stream, but have only one hour to repair a blood clot before returning to their real size.The use of nanobots has made this science fiction now become a happening reality in the field of medicine and scientists are exploring its applications in various use cases like cancer treatments to non-invasive surgeries.
Nanobots or robots of nanometer size are now termed as ‘Doctors invisible to the Naked eye’ as these tiny warriorsmade from nanoparticles would be smaller than an RBC cell or a virus, yet equipped to do wonders.‘Nanobot Swarm’ for targeted drug delivery is now a reality for Cancer treatments. But the big question is why use nanotechnology here? Traditional treatment methods like chemotherapy and radiation have devastating side effects on the patient. Chemo works on the concept of using drugs targeting fast growing and reproducing cells which results in the tumour shrinkage. But these drugs cannot differentiate between fast growing and diving normal cells in the body from the cancer cells, resulting in side effects like bruising, nausea, fatigue, weakened immune system, loss of hair, and decreased appetite.
Targeted drug delivery by intelligent systems is the solution nanobots provide as they are equipped and capable of both diagnostics and therapy. These nanobots can move through the blood stream, detect cancerous cells and provide necessary treatment by delivering drug. This is when we talk about a single nanobots.Swarm intelligence is the field of using swarms or in simple terms, large number of nanobots for better performance.But how do these nanobots survive inside the body without being attacked by the immune system is the next question? Smart biomedical engineers have designed them with diamond exteriors, smooth and flawless structure, and chemically inert, all enabling low bioactivity on them.
A nanobot is made up of nanoparticles and are drugged with nanomedicine to be delivered in to the targeted regions.Equipped with components like nano sensorsto detect cancer cells and nano actuatorsproviding them the capability to move through and when needed, stop and cling on to a surface.Nano container carries the drug to be delivered and they also have a nano computer which integrates all operations.
What about the power source for the nanobots?Well there could be basically two types of nanobots, one that use a nano battery and the other that is self-powered.The self-powered nanobots convert some form of energy into electrical energy for their operation. They could either use mechanical energy from body movements, use vibration or could even use the body’s own blood flow.Some nanobots are designed to mimic the structure of a bacterium with flagellas as propellers allowing them to move through.
Now think of the big picture, swarm of nanobots which talk to each other to increase their range of operation and improve their efficiency.When nanobots can communicate with each other, they can cover larger areas in smaller time. Team work!!Well, the communication among them could be molecular, electromagnetic, chemical or acoustic.Nanobots which communicate with each other by vibrating to create acoustic waves are now in action.
You could think of nanorobots communicating with each other by vibration like those of the bees-and we name them nanobees. So now we know how they communicate, but what do they communicate? Well, the concept is that, as the swarm of nanobots are injected into the patient’s blood stream, they move around and detect cancer cells. When a nanobot confirms the presence of a cancer, they start dancing, producing vibrations so as to attract the other nanobots, so that they could all come to the target region for drug release.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Author : Hanoona Abdul Rasheed

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