Tag Archives: medical nanobots

Bacteria, pyramids, cancer, and Sylvain Martel

Canada’s national newspaper (as they like to bill themselves), the Globe and Mail featured Québec researcher’s (Sylvain Martel) work in a Dec. 13, 2011 article by Bertrand Marotte. From the news article,

Professor Sylvain Martel is already a world leader in the field of nano-robotics, but now he’s working to make a medical dream reality: To deliver toxic drug treatments directly to cancerous cells without damaging the body’s healthy tissue.

I have profiled Martel’s work before in an April 6 2010 posting about bacterial nanobots (amongst other subjects) and in a March 16, 2011 posting about his work with remote-controlled microcarriers.

It seems that his next project will combine the work on bacteria and microcarriers (from the Globe and Mail article),

Bolstered by his recent success in guiding micro-carriers loaded with cancer-fighting medications into a rabbit’s liver, he and his team of up to 20 researchers from several disciplines are working to transfer the method to the treatment of colorectal cancer in humans within four years.

This time around he is not using micro-carriers to deliver the drug to the tumour, but rather bacteria.

Here’s a video of the bacteria which illustrates Martel’s earlier success with ‘training’ them to build a pyramid.

The latest breakthrough reported in March 2011 (from my posting) implemented an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine,

Known for being the world’s first researcher to have guided a magnetic sphere through a living artery, Professor Martel is announcing a spectacular new breakthrough in the field of nanomedicine. Using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system, his team successfully guided microcarriers loaded with a dose of anti-cancer drug through the bloodstream of a living rabbit, right up to a targeted area in the liver, where the drug was successfully administered. This is a medical first that will help improve chemoembolization, a current treatment for liver cancer.

Here’s what Martel is trying to accomplish now (from the Globe and Mail article),

The MRI machine’s magnetic field is manipulated by [a] sophisticated software program that helps guide the magnetically sensitive bacteria to the tumour mass.

Attached to the bacteria is a capsule containing the cancer-fighting drug. The bacteria are tricked into swimming to an artificially created “magnetic north” at the centre of the tumour, where they will die off after 30 to 40 minutes. The micro-mules, however, have left their precious cargo: the capsule, whose envelope breaks and releases the drug.

I’m not entirely sure why the drug won’t destroy health tissue after it’s finished with the tumour but that detail is not offered in Marotte’s story which, in the last few paragraphs, switches focus from medical breakthroughs to the importance of venture capital funding for Canadian biotech research.

I wish Martel and his team great success.

Fish camouflage, Australian webinar for nano business, medical nanobots in your bloodstream and Simon Fraser U has nano news

First off, the American Chemical Society (ACS) has declared ‘The Nano Song‘ a winner (in the People’s Choice and Critic’s Choice categories)  in their ACS Nanotation web community video contest ‘What is Nano?’.  If you haven’t seen the video yet, you can go here (scroll down).

Researchers at Sandia Labs are working to develop materials that change colour in the same that some fish can. Here’s how it works with the fish (from Nanowerk News here):

Certain fish species blend with their environment by changing color like chameleons. Their tiny motor proteins carry skin pigment crystals in their “tails” as they walk with their “feet” along the microtubule skeletons of cells to rearrange the animal’s color display.

The fish change colour as the environment around them changes. The researchers led by George Bachand are trying to enable synthetic or hybrid materials to do the same thing. Applications could be for military and/or fashion.

If you’re interested in the business end of nano, then there’s a webinar courtesy of the Australian Office of Nanotechnology coming up on April 29, 2009. NanoVentures Australia CEO, Peter Binks, will be talking about nanotechnology’s impact on global markets and industries. For more info. about the event, check here and to sign up for the event, go here.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University (US) are honing in on a way to get hordes of microrobots (or nanobots) that have been introduced into the bloodstream to flock or swarm together so they can repair organs or deliver drugs to a specific target. I gather the problem has been  getting the machines to work together and the proposed solution is to use UV light. More details here.

Finally, some latebreaking news from Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada). The university’s nano research facility, 4D Labs, has won funding (roughly $884, 000) from the federal government’s Western Economic Diversification agency to build a maskwritiing facility.  More about this tomorrow.