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Nanorobotics is the emerging technology field of creating machines or robots whose components are at or close to the microscopic scale of a nanometer


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  • 1. FULL PAPER<br />TOPIC:<br />NANOBOTICS (ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONICS)<br />USE OF NANOBOTS IN VARIOUS MEDICAL TREATMENTS <br /> <br />TEAM : USER ID : COLLEGE:<br />ASHIT SRIVASTAVA MOON00965 MANIT BHOPAL<br />AKSHAY TIWARI MOON01065 MANIT BHOPAL<br />MAYANK BHATIA MOON01051 MANIT BHOPAL<br />NANOBOTICS: THE SCI – FI STORY TURNING TRUE<br />Nanorobotics is the emerging technology field of creating machines or robots whose components are at or close to the microscopic scale of a nanometer (10−9 meters). More specifically, nanorobotics refers to the nanotechnology engineering discipline of designing and building nanorobots, with devices ranging in size from 0.1-10 micrometers and constructed of nanoscale or molecular components. The names nanobots, nanoids, nanites, nanomachines or nanomites have also been used to describe these devices currently under research and development.<br />Another definition is a robot that allows precision interactions with nanoscale objects, or can manipulate with nanoscale resolution. Such devices are more related to Microscopy or Scanning probe microscopy, instead of the description of nanorobots as molecular machine. Following the microscopy definition even a large apparatus such as an atomic force microscope can be considered a nanorobotic instrument when configured to perform nanomanipulation. For this perspective, macroscale robots or microrobots that can move with nanoscale precision can also be considered nanorobots.<br />Nanorobotics theory<br />Since nanorobots would be microscopic in size, it would probably be necessary for very large numbers of them to work together to perform microscopic and macroscopic tasks. These nanorobot swarms, both those incapable of replication (as in utility fog) and those capable of unconstrained replication in the natural environment (as in grey goo and its less common varian, are found in many science fiction stories, such as the Borg nanoprobes in Star Trek and The Outer Limits episode The New Breed.<br />Some proponents of nanorobotics, in reaction to the grey goo scare scenarios that they earlier helped to propagate, hold the view that nanorobots capable of replication outside of a restricted factory environment do not form a necessary part of a purported productive nanotechnology, and that the process of self-replication, if it were ever to be developed, could be made inherently safe. They further assert that their current plans for developing and using molecular manufacturing do not in fact include free-foraging replicators.<br />The most detailed theoretical discussion of nanorobotics, including specific design issues such as sensing, power communication, navigation, manipulation, locomotion, and onboard computation, has been presented in the medical context of nanomedicine by Robert Freitas. Some of these discussions remain at the level of unbuildable generality and do not approach the level of detailed engineering<br />Cancer<br />Cancer  (medical term: malignant neoplasm) is a class of diseases in which a group of cells display uncontrolled growth, invasion that intrudes upon and destroys adjacent tissues, and sometimes metastasis, or spreading to other locations in the body via lymph or blood. These three malignant properties of cancers differentiate them from benign tumors, which do not invade or metastasize.<br />Researchers divide the causes of cancer into two groups: those with an environmental cause and those with a hereditary genetic cause. Cancer is primarily an environmental disease, though genetics influence the risk of some cancers.Common environmental factors leading to cancer include: tobacco, diet and obesity, infections, radiation, lack of physical activity, and environmental pollutants.These environmental factors cause or enhance abnormalities in the genetic material of cells.Cell reproduction is an extremely complex process that is normally tightly regulated by several classes of genes, including oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. Hereditary or acquired abnormalities in these regulatory genes can lead to the development of cancer. A small percentage of cancers, approximately five to ten percent, are entirely hereditary.<br />The presence of cancer can be suspected on the basis of symptoms, or findings on radiology. Definitive diagnosis of cancer, however, requires the microscopic examination of a biopsy specimen. Most cancers can be treated. Possible treatments include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. The prognosis is influenced by the type of cancer and the extent of disease. While cancer can affect people of all ages, and a few types of cancer are more common in children, the overall risk of developing cancer increases with age. In 2007 cancer caused about 13% of all human deaths worldwide (7.9 million). Rates are rising as more people live to an old age and lifestyles change in the developing world.<br />Treatments<br />Cancer can be treated by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapy or other methods. The choice of therapy depends upon the location and grade of the tumor and the stage of the disease, as well as the general state of the patient (performance status). A number of experimental cancer treatments are also under development.<br />Complete removal of the cancer without damage to the rest of the body is the goal of treatment. Sometimes this can be accomplished by surgery, but the propensity of cancers to invade adjacent tissue or to spread to distant sites by microscopic metastasis often limits its effectiveness. The effectiveness of chemotherapy is often limited by toxicity to other tissues in the body. Radiation can also cause damage to normal tissue.<br />Chemotherapy<br />Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs ("anticancer drugs") that can destroy cancer cells. In current usage, the term "chemotherapy" usually refers to cytotoxic drugs which affect rapidly dividing cells in general, in contrast with targeted therapy (see below). Chemotherapy drugs interfere with cell division in various possible ways, e.g. with the duplication of DNA or the separation of newly formed chromosomes. Most forms of chemotherapy target all rapidly dividing cells and are not specific to cancer cells, although some degree of specificity may come from the inability of many cancer cells to repair DNA damage, while normal cells generally can. Hence, chemotherapy has the potential to harm healthy tissue, especially those tissues that have a high replacement rate (e.g. intestinal lining). These cells usually repair themselves after chemotherapy.<br />Because some drugs work better together than alone, two or more drugs are often given at the same time. This is called "combination chemotherapy"; most chemotherapy regimens are given in a combination.<br />The treatment of some leukaemias and lymphomas requires the use of high-dose chemotherapy, and total body irradiation (TBI). This treatment ablates the bone marrow, and hence the body's ability to recover and repopulate the blood. For this reason, bone marrow, or peripheral blood stem cell harvesting is carried out before the ablative part of the therapy, to enable "rescue" after the treatment has been given. This is known as autologous stem cell transplantation. Alternatively, hematopoietic stem cells may be transplanted from a matched unrelated donor (MUD).<br />What Are the Capabilities of Nanobots?<br />If you are at all familiar with nanotechnology you may have also heard about nanobots, but since nanotechnology itself has such a diverse application it can be difficult to ascertain exactly what nanobots do.<br />As a matter of fact, technically speaking nanorobots, or nanobots, don’t do anything yet—they haven’t been formally invented. Researchers are hard at work developing them, however, and based on their promising progress they anticipate that the public debut of a working team of nanobots will occur sometime in the next 25 years if not before then. In other words, these microscopic robots are the next big thing.<br />So just what is so great about having a robot that measures only six atoms across? Since this tiny size gives them the ability to interact at the bacteria and virus level, nanobots’ main function will probably be medical. They have the potential to revolutionize the medical community in almost every way. Nanorobots are so tiny that they could be easily injected into the bloodstream, where they would then float through your circulatory system in order to locate and fix problem areas of your body<br />This has especially meaningful ramifications for cancer research and other serious diseases. It is thought that once the nanobot has been fully developed, the design may be refined to produce cancer-killing nanobots that swim through the bloodstream, identify a malignant tumor, and zap it cell by cell with some type of laser or similar treatment until the entire cancerous growth has been removed, right down to the last molecule.<br />This has many great advantages over cancer treatments that are currently in practice; it is obviously much less traumatic to the human system than chemotherapy, for example.<br />Chemotherapy is a harsh form of cancer treatment that kills not only the target malignant cancer cells, but also many good non-target tissues as well. In some cases it has been speculated that chemotherapy does more harm than good, but equally effective remedies have not yet been found. Nanobots are poised to change that. They also far outweigh the benefits of cancer surgery, since this highly invasive and traumatic procedure often places undue stress on an already-overwhelmed body trying to battle tumor growth. Surgery is also oftentimes less effective than we would hope.<br />If even one molecule of cancer is missed, the tumor has the potential to return and the operation will be deemed a failure. Yet no matter how trained or skilled a surgeon may be, he or she is only human and cannot naturally detect cancer at the particle level. This is where the nanobot steps in. These microscopic robots could not only eliminate every cancer cell without touching non-target beneficial cells in the body, but they could do it in a very non-invasive, non-traumatic way. The day may be coming when cancer treatment will be nothing worse than a shot in the arm. As long as that syringe is full of cancer-killing nanobots, the patient will recover completely.<br />Nanobots have the capacity not only to heal cancers, but also all forms of common ailments found in the human system. They can remove particles from the bloodstream, allowing them to effectively unblock clogged arteries by removing the cholesterol molecules one by one. If an organ is breaking down due to age or disease, it is possible that the nanobots may be trained to swim to the affected area and perform micro-surgery, thereby fixing the problem on the spot without recourse to damaging surgical procedures. Nanorobots could also be used to heal basic tissue damage, such as contusions or wounds in the flesh.<br />Researchers expect that nanobots will be able to engineer material using the most basic building blocks of life, so it naturally follows that they would be able to clear away dead tissue from a wound site and slowly rebuild healthy skin in its place to join the gash together again. This may even be accomplished without resulting scar tissue, thanks to the level of detail that nanobots can achieve.<br />When it comes to common illnesses, nanobots would be no less effective. They essentially have the ability to act as artificial helper-T cells in the human immune system, patrolling the bloodstream in search of hostile pathogens such as viruses and bacteria and then “zapping” or otherwise eliminating the unwelcome substances before they can cause harm.<br />This could be the answer for many people who suffer from autoimmune diseases. With such an effective synthetic immune system in place, their systems would be well-equipped to survive the HIV/AIDS onslaught. Scientists in the medical field are also particularly excited about not only the healing nature of nanobots, but also their capacity for research and discovery inside the human body. For example, we do not yet know or understand many of the mysteries surrounding the human brain and how it functions.<br />But well-placed, highly-trained and controlled nanobots could potentially journey to the brain stem or even higher in a completely painless and non-invasive manner, where they could then observe the firing of synapses and other mental processes in order to provide a greater understanding and discovery of their functions and abilities.<br />This would unlock many new areas of wonder for not only brain scientists and researchers, but also for humanity as a whole. Essentially, we could use our brains to create micro-robots that can learn more about our brains, creating an everlasting cycle of learning and refinement.<br />But entirely apart from the healing nature of nanobots, they also have a fun side. Since swarms of nanobots can achieve any task if enough of them are present, they could perform functions like cooking and cleaning. Best of all, the nanobots are so tiny that they literally cannot be seen with the naked eye. Since nanorobot researchers expect to have the first fully functioning prototype released to the public in the next 25 years, the day may soon come when you will have the wonderful experience of seeing your kitchen miraculously “clean itself.”<br />Nanotechnology- A modern day Trojan<br />horse for cancer treatment.<br />By Sarah Armour and Zoe Raynsford Hertfordshire and Essex High School<br />Recent research in nanotechnology has developed new ideas that could<br />lead to the future cure for cancer. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy<br />are the usual treatments for cancer,but the each cause problems for the<br />body. Radiation damages skin, mouth,throat and bowel cells, and can lead to<br />fatigue, nausea, and permanent hairloss. On the other hand chemotherapy<br />can produce hearing loss and damage to a number of organs, including the<br />heart and kidneys. It is hoped that nanotechnology can reduce the side<br />affects that the present treatment for cancer produces.<br />Nanotechnology uses a process calleden capsulation to help carry drugs to kill<br />cancer. Nanoencapsulation typically starts off with a nanoshell made up of<br />carbon atoms only a few nanometers in diameter. See picture below. The toxins<br />(usually custom designed nanoparticles specific for the patients needs) are then<br />injected into the carbon shell, which are in turn injected into the blood stream and<br />once at the cancerous area the nanoshell will be heated with a special laser which<br />will cause the shell to burst and the toxins will be released. The drug can be<br />released in varied manners and speeds depending on the patient. The nanoshell<br />reaches the cancerous cells through targeted delivery. Targeted drug delivery<br />ensures that the toxins only kills the cancerous cells but leaves healthy cells<br />unharmed.<br />Another way nanotechnology can help to prevent cancer is through the use of<br />nanobots. Nanobots are microscopic computerised robots that have<br />components which are as small as one nanometer in size. They can be<br />programmed to do different jobs around the body, and one of them will be to<br />locate and destroy cancerous cells. There will be different nanobots to do different<br />jobs to help kill the cancer, for example,one will inject toxins, while the other<br />cuts out the tumour carefully without damaging healthy cells around it.<br />Another robot will be able to send video footage of this happening to the surgeon<br />treating the patient.<br />Obstructions<br />Never in history has there been an easy transition from old to the new, from pre-historic to modern. The way through to the development of nanobots in cancer treatment has met with several unfortunate but seriously intelligent debates. One such debate occurred between Richard Smalley and Eric Drexler. Richard Smalley, a prominent nanotechnologist, has tried for several years to debunk this possibility. Most recently, he participated in a published exchange with Eric Drexler, another prominent nanotechnologist, who has been the primary proponent and theorist of molecular manufacturing (also called molecular nanotechnology, or MNT).<br />This paper examines the arguments presented by each side and concludes that Smalley has failed to support his opinion that MNT cannot work as Drexler asserts. Much of Smalley's discussion is offtopic, and his assertions about the limitations of enzyme chemistry are factually incorrect—a fatal weakness in his argument. He therefore does not provide a useful criticism of MNT. Trying to bring the debate back on topic, Drexler spends most of his time restating his earlier positions. Despite these problems, the current exchange represents a significant advance in the debate, since Smalley's new focus on realistic chemistry (instead of the earlier “magic fingers”) permits detailed analysis of the technical merits of his claim.<br />History of the Debate<br />Molecular nanotechnology was first proposed by Richard Feynman in 1959. In a talk entitled<br />“There's Plenty of Room At the Bottom,” Feynman asserted, “But it is interesting that it would be, in principle, possible (I think) for a physicist to synthesize any chemical substance that the chemist writes down. Give the orders and the physicist synthesizes it. How? Put the atoms down where the chemist says, and so you make the substance.” In the 1980's, Eric Drexler elaborated on this vision and called it “nanotechnology,” projecting its consequences in the popular book Engines of Creation and working out a limited version of programmable chemistry in his MIT Ph.D. thesis<br />. In 1992, Drexler expanded his MIT thesis into the technical book Nanosystems, which outlined a proposal for building manufacturing systems based on programmable synthesis of nanoscale diamond components. This proposal may be labeled limited molecular nanotechnology (LMNT) to distinguish it from the broader vision of synthesizing “any chemical substance that the chemist writes down.” LMNT theory was developed in increasing detail in subsequent years. Meanwhile, 1<br />commentators, including the media and science fiction authors, seized on the projected consequences of unlimited MNT—especially the so-called gray goo scenario in which selfreplicating nanobot eats the biosphere. Policy organizations, in particular the Foresight<br />Institute (founded by Drexler), began to call for attention to the capabilities and problems implied by MNT.<br />In September of 2001, Richard Smalley published an article in Scientific American titled, “Of<br />Chemistry, Love and Nanobots,” and subtitled, “How soon will we see the nanometer-scale robots envisaged by K. Eric Drexler and other molecular nanotechologists? The simple answer is never.” Smalley asserted that chemistry is not as simple as Drexler claims—that atoms cannot simply be pushed together to make them react as desired, but that their chemical environment must be controlled in great detail. Smalley contrived a system that might do the job, a multitude of “magic fingers” inserted into the working area and manipulating individual atoms. He then asserted that such fingers would be too fat to fit into the required volume, and would also be too sticky to release atoms in the desired location. He concluded that since his contrived method couldn't work, the task was impossible in a mechanical system.<br />In April of 2003, Drexler wrote an open letter to Smalley, asserting that Smalley's fingers were no more than a straw-man attack since Drexler had never proposed any such thing, accusing Smalley of having “needlessly confused public discussion of genuine long-term security concerns,” and calling for him to help set the record straight. In the absence of any response, Drexler followed up with a second open letter in July, noting that in 1999 and 2003, Smalley had stated the possibility of building things “one atom at a time,” and asking for closure on the issue.<br />Technical Analysis of the Debate<br />If Smalley's goal is to demonstrate that machine-phase chemistry is fundamentally flawed, he has not been effective; he has not even demonstrated a problem with Drexler's proposals. Since 1992, Drexler has proposed that dry machine-phase chemical synthesis can be used to build intricate nanometer-scale objects. Smalley's strategy, both in the 2001 Scientific American article and in the current debate, has been to equate Drexler's proposals with something unworkable and then explain why the latter can't work. Thus Smalley's comments do not directly address Drexler's proposals, but attempt by example to show fundamental problems with his underlying theory. However, both of<br />Smalley's attempts have failed, and the second failure is noteworthy for what it reveals about the weakness of Smalley's position<br />. Smalley's 2001 Scientific American article focused on the impossibility of using molecular “fingers” to manipulate each atom involved in the reaction. Drexler has never proposed separate manipulation of each atom; instead, he claims that much simpler control will suffice in a welldesigned robotic system where chemicals can be kept apart until they are properly positioned.<br />Besides, as Drexler pointed out in his open letter, enzymes and ribosomes do not need fingers. Thus challenged, Smalley responded by equating Drexler's proposal not just with enzymes, but with the entire apparatus of biological life. Smalley began by agreeing that an enzyme-based system could do precise chemistry, but then attempted to show that enzymes would not provide the capabilities that Drexler needed.<br />When Smalley substituted enzymes for his “Smalley fingers,” he lost the debate. According to Smalley, enzymes can only work in water, and underwater chemistry cannot build technologically interesting materials such as crystals of steel or silicon. If Drexler plans to avoid water, Smalley asks, “What liquid medium will you use? How are you going to replace the loss of the hydrophobic/hydrophilic, ion solvating, hydrogen-bonding genius of water in orchestrating precise 3 dimensional structures and membranes?” But Smalley is flatly wrong about the ability of enzymes to function without water.<br />Conclusion<br /> Smalley has been unable to put his points through the Smalley’s fingers theory while being a noble prize winner he has been able to influence quite a lot in the scientific community. Drexler with his true labour and research has proven the odds wrong and hence Smalley’s theory and his baseless arguements have been put away from the thinking hats of science. MNT (molecular nanotechnology ) here seems to be the future of the nanobots and the way to a healthy and secure future.<br />Future of nanbots<br />There is now proof that a Nobel Prize-winning technology can deliver targeted therapy directly to cancer tumor cells, say a team of California Institute of Technology researchers led by Mark Davis, who published their findings in Nature. Their clinical trial showed that a specialized polymer nanoparticle injected into patients' bloodstreams did indeed carry a genetic off-switch message to cancer cells, rendering their proteins unable to replicate.<br />right0The targeted nanoparticle used in the study and shown in this schematic is made of a unique polymer and can make its way to human tumor cells in a dose-dependent fashion. (Credit: Caltech/Derek Bartlett)<br />"The importance here is being able to model and target the protein," research team member Antoni Ribas, associate professor of medicine and surgery at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, told TechNewsWorld.<br />Now that the nanotech-based method has been demonstrated, researchers can start working with it to develop therapies not only for cancers, but also for degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and metabolic disorders such as diabetes, study team member Yun Yen, associate director for translational research at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, told TechNewsWorld. <br />Hidden Proteins <br />Researchers already knew that disabling cancer cells from replicating might hold the key to important advances in treatment. However, prior to this clinical trial, they had trouble targeting the specific proteins building the cells, which sometimes remain hidden in the folds of genetic strands.<br />This is where a discovery more than a decade old comes in. Nobel Prize winners Andrew Fire and Craig Mello found that shutting down cancer genes was easier when using RNA interference. This method uses double-stranded small interfering RNA chains (siRNAs) to cut the messenger RNA cancer cells use to replicate, rather than the RNA or DNA itself.<br />Researchers Fire and Craig made their discovery in worms, though, and before now, no one had shown that the siRNAs could be introduced into humans and make their way to targeted cancer cells. Now, Davis, Ribas, and their team have the pictures to prove that they've used nanoparticles to deliver siRNAs directly to cancer cells and that the siRNAs have indeed interfered with the cancer cells' ability to multiply. Electronic microscopy has captured images of the nanoparticles around and even within the cancer cells. <br />Safety First <br />The research is part of a Phase I clinical trial of the new therapy, in which potential treatments are first checked for safety in human subjects. Fifteen patients overall were involved, Ribas told TechNewsWorld. All had cancer, although their tumors varied in type.<br />Only three of the patients had cancerous cells biopsied to demonstrate the efficacy of the nanoparticles and siRNA, noted Ribas.<br />These patients had melanoma, a skin cancer, and thus the cells were easier to reach for biopsy, he explained.<br />The next step is for researchers to enroll more patients and complete Phase II and III clinical trials, Ribas said. <br />Hitting the Bull’s eye <br />The cancer cell proteins targeted by the nanoparticle-delivered agent were indeed split at exactly the place the researchers intended, Davis said. This is the first time this mechanism has been demonstrated in humans, and its implications stretch to many forms of cancer and farther afield into other diseases.<br />right0This electron micrograph shows the presence of numerous siRNA-containing targeted nanoparticles both entering and within a tumor cell. "In principal," Davis said, "that means every protein now is druggable because its inhibition is accomplished by destroying the mRNA."<br />The problem for researchers up to now has been getting the interference chemicals into the cells themselves -- in this case, cancer cells. Davis' team has developed a unique polymer that can self-assemble into a nanoparticle that contains the siRNA. The team has shown that the nanoparticles reach cells in different concentrations based on different doses, which means that there are possibilities for tailoring dosages of disease-fighting siRNA on a disease-by-disease, or even patient-by-patient, basis.<br />Now that a delivery platform has been established, Yen said, researchers need not stop at delivering agents that interfere with cell growth. They can also develop ways to repair the cellular damage caused by aging.<br />"We also could deliver a gene to rejuvenate the cell," he said. "In this study, we already can see that we can inhibit a cell; what I'm saying is that we also can enhance it." <br />