All around the world, exciting technological breakthroughs are reshaping the way industries operate, and medicine is no exception. Technology such as bioelectronics, gene editing, telemedicine and 3D printing promise the possibility of a world free of disease. Nanorobots are among the most promising examples of revolutionary innovation. The market for these minuscule machines is expected to grow 6% by 2020, according to Business Wire.
How might nanobots change medicine?
Nanotechnology presents a plethora of possibilities for transforming the way today’s medicine operates. One of the main difficulties medical professionals encounter is the length of time it takes to make an informed diagnosis. This developmental technology will allow doctors to detect, oversee and treat diseases in real time. Virtually noninvasive, Nanobots will be able to monitor the body’s functions and trigger an alarm as soon as they detect an anomaly. More advanced nanotechnology will allow the nanobot to administer drugs directly to the affected organ, which opens the door to a brave new world in healthcare. Imagine a diabetic patient whose glucose levels are automatically monitored by a tiny piece of machinery in their blood vessels that can administer insulin when needed.
Montreal – considered ground zero in the fight against cancer – has already made a lot of progress on nanotechnology capable of detecting and destroying tumors in the early stages. The practice would be less harmful to the body and more efficient than current treatments. A study published in the well-known medical review Nature Nanotechnology showed that only one to two percent of normally administered oncology medication gets to a tumor, whereas with nanobots it jumps to 55%. Nevertheless according to the web-based analyst Technavio, there are still some obstacles to getting investment since no manufacturer – not Zymergen, Ginkgo Bioworks or Synthace which have already built factories – has gone public yet, and this limits their financial capacity. AstraZeneca is one of the few public companies working on this technology.
When will we have nanobots?
Hard to manufacture and even harder to get approved by the authorities, nanotechnology might not be available to the public for some time. Some of the main challenges for manufacturers to overcome are battery life and how the nanobots will be discarded at the end of their useful life. Many seek to solve the latter problem with inbuilt biodegradability, but the technology isn’t there yet.
Some even believe that nanotechnology might not even be necessary, considering the pace of progress in other areas of medicine. Nevertheless, according to Silvain Martel, director of the Nanobotics Laboratory at Poly- technique Montréal, nanobots have a greater potential and a greater versatility than anything else in healthcare. Who knows when this futuristic technology will become standard?