Once in the territory of science fiction, “nanobots” are closer than ever to becoming a reality, with possible applications in medicine, manufacturing, robotics and fluidics. Today, scientists report progress in developing the tiny machines: They have made nanobot pumps that destroy nerve agents, while simultaneously administering an antidote.
According to Ayusman Sen, Ph.D., the project’s principal investigator, this study arose from more general research aimed at making nanobots from enzymes. “We have been looking at how to convert chemical energy into motion,” he says. “We take the energy that’s generated from catalytic reactions to cause the motion of enzymes.”
To make his nanobots, Sen and his group at The Pennsylvania State University used enzymes found in nature. These are proteins that help specific chemical reactions occur, converting a reactant (raw material) into a product.
The realization that enzymes can move when catalyzing a reaction is a relatively new discovery. Previously, scientists thought that these proteins drifted along in the cytoplasm of the cell by passive diffusion, encountering their reactants and other enzymes by more-or-less chance interactions. However, Sen and others have recently shown that when enzymes catalyze a reaction, they move. Researchers still aren’t sure how this motion occurs, but it likely involves a change in the shape of the enzyme upon catalysis. Sen’s group has shown that these proteins can even swim along a path toward higher levels of reactant. These features make enzymes an attractive material for developing nanobots.
“If we take enzymes and anchor them to a surface so they cannot move, and we give them their reactant, they end up pumping the fluid surrounding them,” Sen says. “So they act as miniature fluid pumps that can be used for a variety of applications.” He notes that the nanobots pump liquid at the rate of several microliters — or millionths of a liter –- per second.
Sen and his coworkers made nanobots to neutralize organophosphates, a class of nerve agents. Exposure to these chemicals during military combat or terrorist attacks can cause permanent neurological damage, and in some cases, death. An enzyme, called organophosphorus acid anhydrolase, can destroy these nerve agents. The researchers immobilized this enzyme on a gel that also contained an antidote. Exposure to organophosphates activates the enzyme. “The enzyme actively pumps in the organosphosphate compound and destroys it, and at the same time pumps out an antidote,” Sen says. Importantly, the system requires no external power source because the enzyme is fueled by the organophosphate reactant.
The nanobot pumps might someday be incorporated into protective clothing for the military or first responders, Sen says. He is also exploring applications for nanobots based on other enzymes, for example, an insulin-pumping device to treat diabetes and an enzyme-powered drug-delivery system. The Pennsylvania State University has filed a patent application on the promising new technology. “If you want to make pumps that will pump very small amounts of liquid in a very precise way, this is one way to do that,” Sen says.
This research was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society
Learn more: Nanobot pumps destroy nerve agents
The Latest on: Nanobots
No news articles
via Google News
The Latest on: Nanobots
- Medical Robots Market Worth $20.70 Billion, Globally, by 2027 at 14.2% CAGR: Verified Market Researchon June 25, 2020 at 6:43 am
Verified Market Research recently published a report, "Medical Robots Market by Product (Instruments & Accessories, Robotic Systems), ...
- IoT devices are the new Trojan horses. Here’s how to secure themon June 25, 2020 at 4:15 am
Right now, your vacuum could be checking out your home or office for would-be thieves. Many robot vacuums are IoT devices that can be easily hacked, allowing a burglar to use the camera to case the ...
- Japan's Fugaku is crowned fastest supercomputer with 2.8 times more power than its predecessoron June 23, 2020 at 5:41 am
The Fugaku supercomputer was developed by Japanese research institute RIKEN and Fujitsu Ltd - its processor technology comes from UK-based ARM.
- Nanobots Swim Like Scallops In Non-Newtonian Fluidson June 21, 2020 at 5:01 pm
The idea of using nanobots to treat diseases has been around for years, though it has yet to be realized in any significant manner. Inspired by Purcell’s Scallop theorem, scientists from the Max ...
- Nanobots Could Remove Arterial Plaqueon June 11, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Less far-fetched is a Ukrainian research project that proposes using nanobots to attack atherosclerotic plaque. At present, rotational atherectomy can be used to remove plaque, but can lead to ...
- Engineered Human Cells Could Propel Drugs Through the Bodyon June 11, 2020 at 11:31 am
But one group has a simpler idea: engineer cells already present in the bloodstream to carry the drugs instead. Scientists from the University of California, San Diego and the University of Science ...
- Nanobots Could Be Controlled with Graphene Nanoantennaon June 10, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Schematic shows how surface plasmon polariton (SPP) waves would be formed on the surface of tiny antennas fabricated from graphene. The antennas would be about one micron long and 10 to 100 nanometers ...
- These Scientists Say Nanobots Could Kill Individual Cancer Cellson May 20, 2020 at 9:49 am
So far, the nanobots haven’t been used to actually kill off cancer cells, though the team has ideas on how they might. Thus far, the nanobots were used to successfully identify breast cancer ...
- Posts Tagged: nanobotson April 25, 2019 at 1:19 am
ETHZ, one of the Swiss universities involved in the recent microbot breakthrough, received a patent in 2013 for a related technology. U.S. Patent No. 8405256, entitled Wireless Resonant … ...
- nanoRISK Newsletteron April 3, 2019 at 9:28 am
No; and we are not covering killer nanobots and grey goo either ... what experts have to say with regard to the risk of engineered nanomaterials. Our nanoRISK newsletter was published six times a year ...
via Bing News