Foresight members will recognize the names of researchers Robert Freitas and Tad Hogg. These two in the U.S. have now teamed with others from Australia to model nanotechnology robotics for medical applications, as described at PhysOrg.com. Excerpts:

Virtual 3D nanorobots could lead to real cancer-fighting technology

From eliminating the side effects of chemotherapy to treating Alzheimer’s disease, the potential medical applications of nanorobots are vast and ambitious. In the past decade, researchers have made many improvements on the different systems required for developing practical nanorobots, such as sensors, energy supply, and data transmission.

But there is still a great deal of work to do before tiny “molecular machines” can begin traveling through our arteries for diagnosing or treating our ailments. To try to pick up the pace, a group of researchers has recently developed an innovative approach to help in the research and development of nanorobots – virtual reality…

In a demonstration of the real-time simulation, the nanorobots had the task of searching for proteins in a dynamic virtual environment, and identifying and bringing those proteins to a specific “organ-inlet” for drug delivery. The researchers analyzed how the nanorobots used different strategies to achieve this goal. For instance, the nanorobots could employ different sensory capabilities such as chemical and temperature sensors, as well as random movement…

“One of the major factors for successfully developing nanorobots is to bring together professionals with interdisciplinary views of science and technologies,” Cavalcanti said. “It is necessary to keep your eyes open for chemistry, materials engineering, electronics, computing, physics, mechanics, photonics, pharmaceutics, and medicine technologies. Our work is advancing progressively because we have experts from different backgrounds participating. We all pursue a common interest in working together to build medical nanorobots”…

“If you consider the velocity that miniaturization is moving, from micro to nanoelectronics, then you can easily understand the feasibility to have medical nanorobots integrated as a nanoelectronic molecular machine before 2015,” he predicted, adding that nanorobots, like all medical technologies, would still need to undergo safety testing, which would push back the date for mass production and commercialization.

For more information, see the website http://www.nanorobotdesign.com. —Christine