Microbiology has come to end! I can’t say that I’m sad about it. This new block, pathophysiology of the cardiopulmonary system, has me pretty excited. I’ve always enjoyed learning cardiac physiology, and I’m interested to see how and why it goes awry. We just had a lecture on atherosclerosis where we learned about how it’s a progressive disease; you start with fatty streaks which eventually progress to inflammation and calcification leading to serious heart problems. When I’m studying diseases, I sometimes think about cool ways of attacking the pathology. So for atherosclerosis, I couldn’t help wondering if it was possible to manufacture little tiny nanorobots that were injected into the bloodstream. Once they reach the heart, they could then activate, and start scavenging the tissue. The goal would be to remove only the harmful depositions while retaining (or even repairing) normal cardiac tissue.
I did a quick google search and was delighted to find that this is a field undergoing serious research. For instance, a group in Israel published a paper where they used nanorobots in live cockroaches and tracked their movements using fluorescence. The group also announced recently that their DNA robots could potentially recognize 12 different cell types in humans, and were ready for clinical trials. I also found a paper that discusses the potential benefits and hurdles nanorobots face. As great as the technology sounds, the paper raises some interesting questions about nanorobots. For instance, the size of the bots must be carefully controlled so that they do not damage or induce clots in the bloodstream. How would we activate the robots? How would they move throughout the body? How would they be eliminated? Even though we are still quite removed from this being a reality, it’s an idea that has some amazing potential.