Science Ahoy!

a legacy of our discomgoogolation

Posts Tagged ‘medicine

Robot in my Stomach

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This is the latest it seems –

Now a consortium of European researchers is testing a way to connect several swallowable devices to create a surgical “robot” that would self-assemble inside the stomach.


A collaboration of researchers from Italy, France, Switzerland, and Spain, called ARES, is testing a way for multiple capsules to automatically snap together. Each would be swallowed individually before assembling into a more complex device once safely in the stomach.

Pretty smooth I should say, although for some reason it reminds me of some gross scifi movie (forget which one, pretty sure it was a blockbuster) where some alien lifeform (?) gets into the body of a space traveler, and bursts open the stomach of our spacewalker in a highly nauseous, gross, nightmarish scene.  Just imagine – “doctor, there is something gnawing inside my small intestine” “Oh, it must be the robot performing daily ablutions”.

That aside, I am not sure I will be too happy about having robots handling me.  I would much rather have a human being prodding my innards, human error and all including.  But, who cares about my preference anyway?  Robotic surgery – the type where robots perform the surgery from OUTSIDE the patient, not INSIDE as the earlier reference describes – is perhaps almost in the horizon.


Written by Elgie Shepard

September 30, 2008 at 9:04 am

Posted in Biomed, Science

Tagged with , , , , ,

Nano Shot

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Can you fool the cell?  Apparently you can.

Stellacci and his colleagues incorporated properties of the cell-penetrating peptides into their synthetic material. They coated gold nanoparticles six nanometers in diameter with alternating stripes of hydrophobic and hydrophilic molecules, mimicking the ordered structure of the peptides researchers have tried to use in the past. They then labeled the gold nanoparticles with fluorescent dye and tested them on mouse immune cells. The group found that the nanoparticles entered the cells and distributed themselves throughout the cytosol, the cell’s internal fluid, without killing the cell. The researchers published their findings in a recent edition of Nature Materials[].

I have not read the original paper in Nature, but I wonder what the longterm impact on the cell is.  Coated or not, the nanoparticle is a foreign body, and I wonder if the cell gets a whiff of the trick soon enough.  Once cradle-to-grave studies are done, we could potentially find cure for diseases such as cancer.

Using nanoparticles for disease monitoring/detection is pretty hot in Europe –

The cost is prohibitive, I am sure.  But may be some day the technology will be perfected enough to be made accessable to all.

Written by Elgie Shepard

September 30, 2008 at 2:45 am