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Nanobots In Your Body?

Byline: Radhika

We've all heard of wearable technology. In addition to being simply a high-tech fashion accessory, wearable technology is starting to have very valuable purposes in the field of science and healthcare.

Wristbands help people plan exercise routines, contact lenses can measure blood glucose level, and smartphone apps help monitor nutritional intake.

Google X, a division of Google that works on new innovations such as Google Glass, is starting to make its mark in the world of medical research. After the invention of the glucose contact lens earlier this year, Google has come up with a revolutionary way to improve healthcare: a disease-diagnosing pill.

How It Works

A pill that can predict problems such as cancer and heart attacks must sound a bit like science fiction; after all, how can a small tablet replace what doctors are able to accomplish after years of training? In order to create these pills, Google used a very novel piece of technology: nanoparticles.

Nanoparticles are microscopically small particles that can be engineered by scientists. For example, the particles can be specially designed to stick to cells that can become cancerous or fatty plaques that can cause heart attacks.

In addition, researchers believe that it is possible for the pills to change color in the presence of certain chemicals, such as potassium. Because a high level of potassium is an indicator of kidney disease, a color change in the nanoparticles would suggest to a doctor that the patient's kidney should be examined.

Most importantly, the nanoparticles are magnetic. This property allows them to be controlled by a wristband; when the particles are attracted to the wristband, they can be analyzed to understand if anything abnormal is occurring in the body.

What Are The Challenges

Working with a new technology comes with certain safety hazards. The nanoparticles will have to remain in a person's bloodstream for many years. Because nothing like this has been done before, studies will have to be conducted on other animals to ensure that the particles will not interfere with the body after many years of use.

The technology is still in its early stages; it has not been determined if the particles will be able to stick to the cancer cells, or if they will be able to return to a magnetic wristband. However, the innovative idea behind the nanoparticle pills is definitely a glimpse into the potential impact of wearable technology on medicine.

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Title Annotation:Technology; nanoparticle pills
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 8, 2014
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