Oct 172017
 

A lot of science fiction novels and movies have featured the use of Nano technology to shrink down people and machines. They are also sent inside human bodies to actively interfere with a threat to the health of the person they are inside of. Today, that idea is a little bit closer to reality. There has been a recent advancement with nanotechnology. Scientists at Caltech were able to programmed robots that are made of DNA.

It’s not a nano vessel where shrunken people can board yet, but this significant advancement has a lot of positive implications on the future of biotechnology.

In an article by the online publication of Science magazine, scientists at the California Institute of Technology has designed a nano robot made from DNA that has a functional body composed of hands, arms, and feet.

In their experiments, the researchers were able to create these DNA robots that can perform a preprogramed set of tasks.  The robots ‘walked’ and ‘carried’ around molecules to a defined location. Although this might not seem to be a lot at first glance, this is definitely a step into the right direction.

The California-based research team of scientists headed by Anupama Thubagere and Lulu Qian both leading bioengineers at Caltech were the ones who spearheaded this advancement. The potential application for this new capability to control DNA Robots is endless and they have yet to tap its full power.

What are the potential applications?

This development could be applied on how medicine is administered. Nano robots could directly neutralize a disease at the molecular level. In theory this will skyrocket the effectiveness of drugs being able to directly treat a sickness at it roots. A concrete example would be Nano robots being able to search and reach cancer cells accurately, which is still not entirely possible by the current medical technology available. With this new development they can program the robot to be able to set up molecular factories that manufacture medicine as needed.

What are the robots made of?

If you view the body at the Nano-level, you will see a whole new alien world that is teaming with life. A living body is composed of a system of interconnected living cells. There are thousands of naturally occurring nanomachines that are responsible for moving cargo in and out these cells, such as the Kinesin and Dynein.

The robots that were recently made are composed of nucleotides and the whole machines are only 20 nanometers in length each. A single robot has simple but functional parts, which includes an arm, a hand, foots, and a leg. Its walk is more like a crawl due to the natural structure of DNA – which is essentially what the robot is made of.

How does it move?

The secret of the movement of this particular nanobot lies within the nature of the behavior of the four bases of DNA, which are adenine, guanine, thymine, and cytosine. The adenine on a particular DNA can attach to the thymine of another DNA strand, while the cytosine of one DNA strand can connect to the guanine of another.

 

 

Tissue Nanotransfection and the Future

 Future Medical Technology  Comments Off on Tissue Nanotransfection and the Future
Aug 172017
 

Science fiction and fantasy has created a world where injuries are healed in a flash using certain devices and spells. What if that could be possible in the real world? That might well be the case thanks to a technology developed at the Ohio State University called Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT).

TNT is just a small silicone chip the size of a coin which delivers genetic code into skin cells, which are then transformed into a different kind of cell needed to treat a particular condition.

The technology clearly has the potential to save lives given what it can do. A car crash victim’s chance of survival is increased if their wounds can be tended to straightaway. There’s also a higher chance of saving a wounded soldier’s life if this technology is available in the battlefield.

Proof that it works

Of course, any new technology, including a breakthrough such as this one, needs to be tested. The Ohio State University team has so far conducted lab tests and all of them have been positive.

The device works by mounting it on the skin where it delivers genes to the tissue underneath it with the help of an electrical field.

In one test, TNT was able to completely repair the injured legs of mice in just a few weeks. After just one touch, active blood vessels started showing on the mice’s injured legs. By the second week, the mice’s legs look to have been healed.

TNT in this case reprogrammed the mice’s skin cells into vascular cells needed to regulate blood flow throughout the body.

Works on more than just skin cells

Chandan Sen, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies, said that TNT can restore any kind of tissue. A mouse that suffered a stroke regained brain function when it was treated with TNT, which grew brain cells on its skin.

The technology, according to Sen, can transform skin cells into elements of a different organ with just a single touch.

A breakthrough technology

The use of TNT marks the first reprogramming of cells on a live body. Many scientists are working in ways to reprogram cells in order to repair the body, but this one is different. What makes it stand out is the elimination of the step where pluripotent stem cells, which can convert into different cell types, are created.

A study published in Nature Nanotechnology notes that the current methods of cell therapy are risky because they involve introducing a virus and take too many steps.

With TNT, no laboratory or hospital is needed to perform the healing. The use of the technology in lab tests also showed no side effects. Plus, it will only take a second to treat a patient.

TNT weighs less than 100 grams and has a long shelf life.

Waiting for approval

Chen has been working on the project for four years and expects the technology to be carried out on human subjects within the year. For now, TNT is still awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

 

 

Future Medical Technology May Eliminate Disease

 Future Medical Technology  Comments Off on Future Medical Technology May Eliminate Disease
Jan 032017
 

Two months ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, together with his pediatrician wife, Priscilla Chan made a pledge of $3 billion dollars over the next ten years that will aim to treat, manage and cure all diseases by the end of the century. A project that is seen to pay off in 20 to 50 years, the couple already mentioned about their plans after their daughter was born.

It can be remembered that Zuckerberg announced that 99% of their Facebook shares will be donated to their new initiative which was around $45 billion at that time.

Other big names in the industry of technology have also expressed their plans and have already taken actions to help in the field of medical research and other aspects related to health.

Microsoft bigwig and philanthropist, Bill Gates together with his wife, Melinda, have been making their share years ago by funding public health projects all over the world through a charitable foundation they have started. These include polio and malaria prevention efforts. Gates was there during the announcement made by Zuckerberg with his wife and went up the stage to express his support.

Meanwhile, Silicon Valley billionaire Sean Parker made a donation amounting to $250 million, in the earlier part of this year, for the development of immune therapies for cancer.

Google, for its part, is also gathering genetic data to contribute to enhance human longevity as well as developing contact lenses designed for glucose monitoring on diabetic patients.

Fifteen years ago, the sequencing of the human genome was first accomplished for $3 billion but today, the costs are much less than it is projected that in 2022. Genome sequencing will be less expensive than blood testing and with computers able to process genome, it has become part of information technology.

What used to be an industry related to devices, electronics and inventions, technology has already conquered the field of medicine to find cure to diseases. With the use of advanced technologies such as sensors and the artificial intelligence system developed by IBM, more medical advances can be expected in the next ten years.

In the recent years, other technology giants have designed products for health monitoring. We now have the Apple Watch and the Fitbit to monitor sleep cycles, stress and energy levels as well as physical activities and send the data to mobile devices via mobile apps. Even the smartphones of today are able to monitor a person’s psychological and emotional status.

CEO of San Diego-based cancer drug and diagnostics company, Ignyta, Dr. Jonathan Lim sees the efforts of the Zuckerberg family as a gap filler. He said that the money will be funding basic science and prevention which do not really get much support as clinical efforts do.

The philanthropic foundation is known as the Chan Zuckerberg initiative which will create Biohub, a cooperative that will be responsible in developing a “cell atlas” of the human body as well as the establishment of an infectious disease initiative to develop diagnostic tests, new drugs and vaccines against Ebola, Zika and HIV.