back to article Rise of the (tiny) machines: US boffins make nanomotor breakthrough

US researchers have controlled nanomotors embedded within cells, a breakthrough that gives scientists a new tool for probing the inner structure of cells, and opens up a new front in research for futuristic cancer treatments. The result was announced by Penn State researchers in a paper published in the journal Angewandte …


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  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Nemo motors

    Will they run a tiny nano submarine?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nemo motors

      With a tiny Raquel Welch?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nemo motors

        There would be no point to a tiny Raquel Welch. What would be needed would be a tiny Robert Winston.

    2. Crisp

      Re: Nemo motors

      We all run in a tiny submarine...

      tiny submarine...

      tiny submarine...

  2. JassMan Silver badge

    Optional Functionality

    "In addition, functionalities such as sensing, molecule delivery, or photothermal excitation can be added to rod-shaped motors, enabling them to carry out different operations directly inside cells that may be interesting for biomedical applications,"

    Forget the molecule delivery, what they need is rotating knives or perhaps a nano version of the ubiquitous kitchen whisk, thus enabling it to completely trash an cancer cells it comes across.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Optional Functionality

      There's a chap at Edinburgh who's done nano-ish neuro-surgery already.

      Get some tiny iron filings, and link them to a molecule that likes cancer cells only. Introduce to the brain's bloodstream. Wait. Once the iron has bound to the surface of the naughty cancer, or possibly entered the cancer cells, stick patient in MRI scanner.

      Giant magnet makes iron filings zoom around, and heat up. Heated cells are damaged and less resistant to chemo-therapy. Zap.

      This allows you to treat inoperable tumours, with low doses, minimising damage.

      What's even better, is that the iron stays in place. So if/when the tumour comes back - you just shove 'em back in the MRI, rinse and repeat.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow those Penn state guys really like to stick their gold rods everywhere!

    I kid, I kid, that's just a joke, we like to have fun around here, here's my head shot?

  4. JDX Gold badge

    My hope is that nanotech is the game-changer for medicine within my lifetime, the biggest thing since antibiotics.

    My fear is it is the medical equivalent of sustainable fusion power. Always just around the corner.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    This could be the start of something small

    It's got power and control (sort of)

    Now needs logic and sensing.

    But still v0.1 tech.

  6. David Pollard

    Here's how a bacterium propels itself inside a cell

  7. Mr C

    method of control?

    The article only mentioned nanomotors, which makes me wonder how such a device can be controlled.

    I cannot imagine someone on the outside 'steering' it or anything.

    At those sizes (3 micrometers x 300 nanometers) i doubt they can fit any kind of control-mechanism in using current technology.

    Anyways, enough of my rambles, i think i am going to watch Innerspace with Dennis Quaid to get an idea of the future :P

  8. Crisp

    "...internal mechanical responses that no one has seen before..."

    Translation: We thumped it to see what happened.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "...internal mechanical responses that no one has seen before..."

      Most human scientific progress has resulted from either thumping things together or poking them with sharp sticks.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: "...internal mechanical responses that no one has seen before..."

        Bzzzzzzzz.... ouch.

        Next time I think I'll try using a non-conducting stick for my investigations...

      2. theastrodragon

        Re: "...internal mechanical responses that no one has seen before..."

        Or kicking them hard. While drinking beer.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    I for one ...

    ... welcome our nano-scale, sonically-propelled overlords.

  10. Fogcat

    HeLa Cells

    There's an interesting podcast about the HeLa cells mentioned in the article here

    Well at least it was completely new information and interesting to me.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How is a rod a motor?

    (I really don't know.)

    1. Malc

      Re: How is a rod a motor?

      Could be a Hot Rod?

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