Experts in the city have developed tiny devices that can move through the blood longer and farther than ever before, to deliver drugs and perform microsurgery.
These vehicles, called nano voyagers, can perform tasks overnight and have the potential to transform healthcare. They can be manoeuvred from outside and this will involve fewer invasive processes.
None of the nano voyagers developed so far can move through blood vessels for as long as the duration of the night. But according to a recent paper published by Ambarish Ghosh and his colleagues from the Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CENSE) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in the city, these more durable nano voyagers can be propelled by magnets. The experts say the process is also non-toxic.
The width of a nano voyager is one-thousandth of a human hair. It can be tied to a drug before being injected into the patient’s blood.
The paper says the idea of tiny vessels roaming around in human arteries and veins and working as surgical nano voyagers was first proposed by theoretical physicist Richard Feynman and his vision has triggered the imagination of both scientists and non-scientists.
Prof Ambarish Ghosh said, “The magnetic nano motors are shaped like corkscrews. When they are placed in a rotating magnetic field, the screws rotate and move forward, similar to how a corkscrew enters a wine bottle.” He said the experiments can, in principle, be performed in vivo. In practice, it will depend on the actual in vivo conditions.
But how soon can the discovery translate into the reality of delivering drugs into human bodies?
Dr Ghosh said this will be possible in the next couple of years, given the “alarming rate of progress” in the targeted drug delivery field. There have been many discoveries on biomolecules in recent years.
Dr Omid Farokhzad of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston recently spoke on targeted polymerised nanoparticle drugs that will be available soon.
Dr Yamuna Krishnan, from the National Centre for Biological Sciences in the city, has been working on nano DNA machines which can measure the acidity levels of cells.
Dr Ghosh said, “I expect major scientific issues to be sorted out within the next couple of years, at least for certain straightforward applications.”
But more tests need to be carried out and approvals obtained from medical quarters and government agencies and this could easily take upto a decade, the expert added.