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Could DNA Nanobots be the Key to Curing Cancer?

DNAnanobotsTechThe goal of curing cancer has been the crowning achievement that is still just beyond scientist’s reach. Like the vaccine for polio, a cure for cancer will be seen as a great turning point in medicine, science and human ingenuity. And it may not be that far beyond our reach, it seems.

“No, no it’s not science fiction; it’s already happening,” said Ido Bachelet at a London event late last year. Bachelet, previously of Harvard’s Wyss Institute and faculty member at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, is a leading figure in the field of DNA nanotechnology. And according to Singularity Hub, Bachelet wants to use these microscopic robots to cure cancer in humans very soon.

In the brief talk in London, Bachelet said that DNA nanobots will soon be tried in a critically ill leukemia patient. The patient, who has been given roughly six months to live, will receive an injection of DNA nanobots designed to interact with and destroy leukemia cells—while causing virtually zero collateral damage in healthy tissue. If these nanobots prove to do the trick, we may be on our way to curing all types of cancer in the near future! (Check out this video modeling the DNA nanobots : DNA nanorobot from Wyss Institute on Vimeo.)

Now, we know what you’re thinking: this all sounds too much like science fiction to be true. But then again, we’ve posted quite a few stories on our blog about some science fiction-type innovations in technology that are actually true. Bachelet and his colleague Shawn Douglas have been working on DNA nanobots for just three years, the entire field of DNA nanotechnology has been around since the early eighties.

These tiny robots won’t stay in the patient’s system for the rest of their life, of course. After some time, the nanobots are painlessly expelled from their system. Bachelet is also very confident that the nanobots are smart enough to avoid being targeted by the patient’s own immune system, due to the fact that they are made of an organic, biocompatible material.

Bachelet imagines a time when it won’t just be the critically ill receiving nanobot injections. Quite the opposite. Healthy people will go for their annual checkup and receive an injection. The nanobots will screen the body for any type of cancer—they can already identify 12 tumor types—and eliminate it before it can spread, perhaps before it’s even detectable!

And his vision stretches beyond cancer to DNA nanobots performing surgery on the cellular level—even mending spinal injuries by bridging severed nerves and actively directing them how to reconnect. However, these scientific achievements are still firmly in the future. But it won’t be long before science fiction becomes science fact for these amazing little robots!

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