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Swimming nanobots target cancer cells inside your body

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
June 19, 2015
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Scientists keep saying they'll put tiny robots into our bodies to cure disease, perhaps not realizing we may not be down with that. But the field is progressing rapidly, and researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) have now found an artful way to propel such 'bots. They created a "nanoswimmer" the width of a silk fiber, made of several links of polymer and magnetic nanowires. After introducing it into a blood-like fluid, they applied an external oscillating magnetic field, propelling the nanobot the length of its body in a second.

Even better, the team can control exactly where the nanobots finish up -- at a particular organ, say -- by modulating the field. Though inserting tiny bits of metal into your body sounds weird, scientists believe nanobots could reduce the need for invasive surgery, speed recovery and lower the risk of complications. The new research removes the need for a (tiny) motor inside the nanobots, freeing up space for drugs that can target, say, cancer cells. It also makes the bots fairly easy to build and tune for different applications. There's still a lot of work to be done before it ever gets to trial, starting with subjects willing to do let robots ply their bloodstream.

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