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posted by Dopefish on Tuesday February 18 2014, @07:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the science-rules dept.

ticho writes:

"For the first time, a team of chemists and engineers at Penn State University have placed tiny synthetic motors inside live human cells, propelled them with ultrasonic waves, and steered them magnetically. It's not exactly 'Fantastic Voyage', but it's close. The nanomotors, which are rocket-shaped metal particles, move around inside the cells, spinning and battering against the cell membrane.

'As these nanomotors move around and bump into structures inside the cells, the live cells show internal mechanical responses that no one has seen before,' said Tom Mallouk, Evan Pugh Professor of Materials Chemistry and Physics at Penn State. 'This research is a vivid demonstration that it may be possible to use synthetic nanomotors to study cell biology in new ways. We might be able to use nanomotors to treat cancer and other diseases by mechanically manipulating cells from the inside. Nanomotors could perform intracellular surgery and deliver drugs non-invasively to living tissues.'"

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by lubricus on Tuesday February 18 2014, @03:23PM

    by lubricus (232) on Tuesday February 18 2014, @03:23PM (#1647)

    Sure, but that's the thing. Even with this, some research which is probably more applicable to cancer research than most that proclaim it, the application is so far down the road as to be entirely speculative.

    How would a nanomachine be useful in cancer research?

    First, we're talking about nanomotors, not nanomachines. How big is that gap? One decade, two, three? We've had nano-motors for a while now, where are the programmable nanomachines everyone is always talking about?
    Drug delivery: How are the cells detected and targeted? (This is the most biggest challenge).
    Cell lysis: (See above).
    Detection: Perhaps this is the strongest prospect, but again, what is this miraculous nano machine detecting? There are dozens if not hundreds of different types of cancer cells.

    The only benefit I can think of is little roving smart-missiles taking out metastatic cells, but even then, modified viruses will probably be used before a nano machine.

    If, on the other hand you simply say that this group can control and direct nanomotors in living cells, and would like to use them to address issues in cell regulation and physiology, I could see how this would be extremely useful within 3-5 years, and I wouldn't consider that pure speculation.

    Basic research is cool! Let's try to sell it for what it is, then other cool, but non-cancer related work will be supported also.

    ... sorry about the typos
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  • (Score: 1) by ragequit on Tuesday February 18 2014, @03:36PM

    by ragequit (44) on Tuesday February 18 2014, @03:36PM (#1655) Journal

    I'm fairly certain that nanomachines (esp. those depicted in The Diamond Age) will require a fundamental breakthrough in physics in general. Until then, it will be "Breakthrough, nanomotors -- On the internet!"

    The above views are fabricated for your reading pleasure.