Recently published research, in Scientific Reports, states that 3D-printed biobots might float through our bodies in the near future, targeting tumors, releasing drugs, sensing and neutralizing toxins and acting as cellular repairmen.
The biobots have to communicate, flourish and spread in a micro-environment while performing their appointed tasks. 2D and 3D engineered micro-environments form the building blocks of these biological printed machines. They have spatially controlled mechanical and chemical properties to control their functionalities.
Eventually neurons will be added that could detect specific molecules in the body, like a toxin or glucose. These neurons could be programmed to send a neurotransmitter to contract skeletal or muscle cells whenever they sense such a toxin, and steer the biobot toward its source. Once there, the 3d printed biobot could release a drug or anti-toxin.
Biobots aren’t very fast though, after releasing the micro device in the body, muscle contractions cause the beam to break from the rest of the structure and bend/stretch in a walking motion, traveling 7.15mm in 30 seconds which results in an average speed of 0,238 mm per second, as you can see here:
On the other hand we have nanobots. According to nanogloss.com, nanorobots will only measure about six atoms wide and are therefor much smaller than 3d printed biobots. It is expected that they could be equipped with all kinds of tools, like cameras, in order to provide more far-reaching information about the human body. Furthermore, researchers expect that they will soon have developed the nanobot’s design to the point where they can be remotely controlled in order to perform many useful tasks.
One would be the ability to float through a bloodstream, identifying problematic parts of the body and repairing them. Nanorobots could be used to clear cholesterol from arteries, thereby saving one from a heart-attack. If the heart itself needs a repair, nanobots will work their way up to the wounded area and do a micro-surgery that one would probably not even feel, but which could easily save a life.
Nanobots have the ability not only to cure cancers, but also many other forms of commonly known diseases found in the human body. Nanobots can remove stuff from your bloodstream that doesn’t belong there, and effectively unblock congested arteries by eliminating the cholesterol molecules one by one.
If one of your organs is breaking down due to aging or a disease, the possibility exists that nanobots may be programmed to swim to the affected area and do a micro-surgery and fix the problem on the spot without the need for damaging surgical actions.
Since nanorobot researchers expect to have the first fully functioning prototype released to the public within the next 25 years, until that time we’ll have to do it with biobots. Here is a preview of a nanobot: