Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have for the first time ever used nanobots that have their own micro-motors to successfully dole out medicine inside a living creature–a lab mouse. Previous research had used nanobots to destroy live viruses or were put inside a live creature to be controlled by devices outside of its body, but these nanobots are the first to be self-propelled inside a living creature to dispense drugs themselves once they reached their targeted destination.
The nanobots, coated in zinc, were ingested by the mouse. Once they reached its stomach, they chemically reacted with the hydrochloric acid in the mouse’s digestive enzymes to create hydrogen bubbles that their micro-motors then used to propel themselves at speeds as high as 60 micrometers per second towards the lining of its stomach. They attached themselves there, dissolved, and automatically dispensed their load of nanoparticles into the stomach lining. After ingestion, the nanobots remained in the stomach lining for up to 12 hours, which the researchers considered proof of their reliability.
Furthermore, after killing the mouse to examine its insides, the researchers found that the nanobots did not cause any damage in the tissue or toxicity levels, thanks in part to their zinc coating which doubled as a beneficial nutrient. They drew the conclusion that their success should be a springboard for further testing and see this method, still in its nascent stage, as a future alternative to the way high-dose medicines are taken today.
Source: Nanobot micromotors deliver medical payload in living creature for the first time, feedlounge, January 22, 2016.