from the July 2011 issue

Medical cyberbots may be crawling around inside you

It may sound like something straight out of "The Matrix," but advances in robotic miniaturization have made it a reality. It isn't a future concept anymore.

"They're Here!"

Example: Israeli researchers from Technion Medical Robotics Laboratory at the Israel Institute of Technology created "ViRob", with a diameter of just 1 millimeter wide, 14mm long, it was designed to crawl through vessels and cavities. It can deliver a dosage of medication to a precise location in the body, or pull a microcatheter deep inside where it would normally not have been able to reach previously.

Researchers can also use ViRob to deliver drugs in lung cancer patients, as well as take tissue samples from different areas inside the body.

As development progresses, it will be possible to add miniature tongs, video camera, and other extra functions as needed. ViRob is just one of many different types of medical microbots being developed.

Research is under way to make nanobots even smaller, much smaller... down to a molecular level. The NANOBOT. When this happens, we will have hundreds of medical cyberbots patrolling our bodies, carrying out routine tasks such as scouring the insides of our arteries to remove plaque, all but eliminating heart attacks, atherosclerosis, and much more.

Molecular bots could assemble other bots while inside the body as needed for specific tasks.

A first wave of molecular bots could detect cancer cells, target them, and remove them before cancer can get started, while a second wave delivers anti-cancer medication to the exact spot where the cancer cells were just targeted and removed.

While this is truly an amazing thing, a benefit to mankind, it also brings with it some very ugly and serious ethical questions...

Who will be able to afford this? Only wealthy individuals, or will the common peasant in a third world country be able to have it as well?

Some doomsayers may go so far to say: If mankind eliminates cancer and heart attacks, people start living much longer, world population increases beyond any normal conditions, famine and world starvation kick in because we can't produce the quantity and volume of food to feed everyone.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report July 2011

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