Thought Controlled Nanobots Inside The Brain

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Thought Controlled Nanobots Inside The Brain

#1  Postby Calilasseia » Aug 25, 2016 10:56 pm

New Scientist just unleashed this interesting article, which has deep ramifications for the future.

A man has used thought alone to control nanorobots inside a living creature for the first time. The technology released a drug inside cockroaches in response to the man’s brain activity – a technique that may be useful for treating brain disorders such as schizophrenia and ADHD.

Getting drugs to where they need to be exactly when you want them is a challenge. Most drugs diffuse through the blood stream over time – and you’re stuck with the side effects until the drug wears off.

Now, a team at the Interdisciplinary Center, in Herzliya, and Bar Ilan University, in Ramat Gan, both in Israel, have developed a system that allows precise control over when a drug is active in the body.

The group has built nanorobots out of DNA, forming shell-like shapes that drugs can be tethered to. The bots also have a gate, which has a lock made from iron oxide nanoparticles. The lock opens when heated using electromagnetic energy, exposing the drug to the environment. Because the drug remains tethered to the DNA parcel, a body’s exposure to the drug can be controlled by closing and opening the gate.

More on this from the following scientific paper:

Thought-Controlled Nanoscale Robots In A Living Host by Shachar Arnon, Nir Dahan, Amir Koren, Oz Radiano, Matan Ronen, Tal Yannay, Jonathan Giron, Lee Ben-Ami, Yaniv Amir, Yacov Hel-Or, Doron Friedman & Ido Bachelet, PLoS One, 11(8): e0161227. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161227 (15th August 2016) [Full paper downloadable from here]

Arnon et al, 2016 wrote:Introduction

Controlled drug delivery systems aim at improving the spatial and temporal resolution of therapeutic molecules. For example, linking a drug to an antibody could render it highly selective to the antibody’s cognate epitope, a concept already used in practice. However, the temporal dimension is significantly more challenging. Drugs can be embedded in a matrix, such as a particle or liposome, from which they diffuse slowly into the bloodstream or tissue[1], and various technologies combine this concept with spatial targeting [2]. However, until recently, no system could provide explicit temporal control of a drug, e.g. generating a sequence of alternating activation/inactivation of the drug for arbitrary periods of time. Any system that releases drugs, regardless of release kinetics, is inherently irreversible and therefore does not provide true therapeutic control (in the engineering sense of the term ‘control’).

Recently, drug-loaded nanoscale robots were reported, which would not release drug molecules, but rather reversibly expose and conceal them to the environment while maintaining them physically linked to their chassis[3]. These nanorobots are the first system that approaches real arbitrary control of therapeutic molecules; however, it requires comprehensive knowledge of molecular targets discriminating healthy from abnormal environment states. While in many diseases, such as cancer, these targets are well defined, other diseases are much more difficult to characterize in molecular terms of good and bad, making them extremely elusive to diagnose and treat. Mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, attention deficits, and autism, exemplify this challenge. These conditions therefore require different modes of control over therapeutic molecules, which are driven by patient’s mental and cognitive states.

In the last two decades there has been extensive progress in brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), allowing both healthy and disabled individuals to control a wide range of devices using mental activity alone[4,5]. The mental activity is decoded from brain activity by applying a combination of signal processing and machine learning techniques to various neurophysiological signals, recorded invasively or non-invasively. Such BCIs allow people to move a cursor on a screen[6], navigate in virtual reality[7], control robots[8], robotic prostheses[9,10], and more. Real-time brain mapping technologies are also suggested in assisting the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, providing a new communication and control technology for disabled individuals and the general population[11,12,13]. Nevertheless, so far no interface has been established between a human mind and a therapeutic molecule, which are 10 orders of magnitude apart. The purpose of this study was to show that DNA robots can bridge this gap.

To establish a direct control interface to DNA robots, we designed robots that can be electronically remote-controlled. This was done by adding metal nanoparticles to the robotic gates, which could heat in response to an electromagnetic field. This concept has been demonstrated previously[13], and has been recently implemented in controlling gene expression in an animal model of diabetes[14].

In this paper we integrate all these components to allow EEG patterns associated with cognitive states to remotely trigger nanorobot activation in a living animal, and describe the design, construction, and implementation of this brain-nanomachine interface. Our working prototype highlights the potential of such a technology in managing disorders to which no effective treatment exists, and could inspire advanced modes of control over biological molecules in the body even outside therapeutic contexts.

I'll let everyone have fun digesting this little lot. :)
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Re: Thought Controlled Nanobots Inside The Brain

#2  Postby Alan B » Aug 26, 2016 11:41 am

Interesting. How large are these nano-scale robots? From the article it seems that they could be up to 25nm (or is that the payload size?).
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Re: Thought Controlled Nanobots Inside The Brain

#3  Postby tuco » Aug 26, 2016 10:28 pm

Literally mind blowing.
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