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VWN News: Virtual 3D nanorobot tests may lead to cancer-fighting technology
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 Virtual 3D nanorobot tests may lead to cancer-fighting technology

This story is from the category Pure Research
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Date posted: 06/12/2007

Nanorobots, tiny molecular workers that can be injected into the body to diagnose and to repair, are still a long way from actualisation.

There is still a great deal of work to do before tiny molecular machines can begin travelling through our innards. To try to pick up the pace, a group of researchers has taken the virtual prototyping route to an extreme, and are using a VR environment to train nanorobot control software.

Adriano Cavalcanti, Bijan Shirinzadeh, Robert Freitas, Jr., and Tad Hogg, representing institutions in Melbourne, Australia, and the U.S., have published their simulation procedure in a recent issue of Nanotechnology.

Cavalcanti and colleagues hope that virtual nanorobots, virtual biomolecules and virtual arteries will accelerate the progress of nanorobot development.

?The software NCD (nanorobot control design) is a system implemented to serve as a test bed for nanorobot 3D prototyping,? Cavalcanti, CEO of the Centre for Automation in Nanobiotech and researcher at Monash University in Melbourne, stated:

?It is an advanced nanomechatronics simulator that provides physical and numerical information for nanorobot task-based modelling. Serving as a fast development platform for medical nanorobots investigation, the NCD simulations show how to interact and control a nanorobot inside the body.

One of the major factors for successfully developing nanorobots is to bring together professionals with interdisciplinary views of science and technologies. It is necessary to keep your eyes open for chemistry, materials engineering, electronics, computing, physics, mechanics, photonics, pharmaceutics, and medicine technologies. Our work is advancing progressively because we have experts from different backgrounds participating. We all pursue a common interest in working together to build medical nanorobots.

Some existing components, like sensors, motors, actuators and antennas, are already available as nanodevices. Then you have to take the next step: those components should be integrated as embedded parts assembled into a nanorobot.

In the case of nanorobots, you have huge potential for commercialisation, with enormous chances of profit for the medical and pharmaceutical sectors,? Cavalcanti said. ?Among other applications in medicine, nanororobots also represent an important strategic technology for military defence against biohazard contamination, which should help to protect against different sorts of pandemic outbreaks.

If you consider the velocity that miniaturisation is moving, from micro to nanoelectronics, then you can easily understand the feasibility to have medical nanorobots integrated as a nanoelectronic molecular machine before 2015.?

In a demonstration of the real-time simulation, the nanorobots had the task of searching for proteins in a dynamic virtual environment, and identifying and bringing those proteins to a specific ?organ-inlet? for drug delivery.

The researchers analysed how the nanorobots used different strategies to achieve this goal. For instance, the nanorobots could employ different sensory capabilities such as chemical and temperature sensors, as well as random movement.

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