In the future, when your kids ask how all those millions of “nano-bots” swim through your blood….don’t tell them the truth.
A tiny assembly line that powers the whip-like tail of sperm could be harnessed to send future nanobots or other tiny medical devices zooming around the human body, according to a preliminary research report.
Borrowing a page from reproductive biology, the proof-of-principle study offers a peek at how nanotechnology might overcome the problem of supplying energy to the envisioned menagerie of nanobots, implants and “smart” probes aimed at releasing disease-fighting drugs, monitoring enzymes and performing other medical roles within a patient’s body.
fter tethering the first two proteins in the pathway to the chip, the researchers found that both did well in breaking down glucose and handing the end-product to the next protein. Compared to versions lacking a surface-targeting domain and “just randomly glommed” onto a structural support, the engineered proteins performed especially well. Most of the remaining assembly line has yet to be similarly tweaked, but Travis and Mukai’s work suggests it should be possible. “We believe it is one of the first, if not the first, example of building a biological pathway on a manmade surface,” Travis said. The collaborators have a provisional patent for the ATP-making strategy, though no commercial partners as of yet.