Surgical Nanorobots - A Moonshot Project
Tom Spendlove posted on May 12, 2014 | 13408 views

Ido Bachelet believes that surgery is a vital part of the world's health, but he has problems with current surgical practices. Most of the world doesn't have accessibility to surgical centers or personnel. More than 50million surgeries will be performed in 2014 in the US, and the cost will range between $25 and $150 per minute in the operating room. One to three percent of those patients die in the first thirty days after surgery due to unforeseen complications.

Ido's solution is definitely radical - he proposes to take all of the knowledge and procedures required to perform the surgery and encode the information on a drop of saline. The drop will be placed into a syringe and transported anywhere in the world. Once injected into the patient the drop will target bad cells and train good cells to fix the problem.

Nanobots exist inside this drop of saline, and each robot can be programmed to do a different portion of the surgery. Robots will pick up a payload from one point and deliver it to a second location. Several targeting nanobots sent to a damaged area can disintegrate the tissue cell by cell.

Surgical robots can also give signals to the cells, telling the cells to sleep, die or regenerate. Support can be provided by suppressing bleeding, controlling pain or limiting inflammation in the body.

The robots were designed to interact with each other with inspiration from computer programming logic and conventions. AND, OR and XOR gates built into the system tell the robots where to go and what to do.

Inputs are taken from molecules and the outputs are written in the form of drugs delivered to the body. Different locations in the body can be given numerical addresses telling each nanobot exactly where to travel.

One very interesting aspect of this talk is Ido's problem solving structure. He gives the problem statement and then fits his solution in the framework of SolveForX - Huge Problem, Radical Solution, and Breakthrough Technology.

Bachelet's work fits with previous studies done by Shawn Douglas in a previous SolveForX talk. The technology here is amazing, but the actual nanorobotic surgery feels like a far away goal. As the population ages and the need for medical attention increases I look forward to taking advantage of this new technology.

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