Robotics interfacing with the human body always brings about discussions of science fiction, however in certain cases, it’s more real than we may think. Late last month, scientists from two Israeli universities developed technology to allow individuals to control organic nanomachines with their minds.The organic machines, built from DNA strands, form shell structures which contain small amounts of drugs. A small iron oxide “gateway” exists within the shells which reacts only when exposed to electromagnetic energy.
A computer was then programmed to detect the difference between human resting brain activity, and human brain activity when performing general mental arithmetic problems. Initial tests placed these nanobots containing a fluorescent drug into a cockroach, then placing the roach inside an electromagnetic coil. An individual wearing an EEG (Electroencephalography) cap to measure brain activity was then instructed to either rest, or perform mental arithmetic. The electromagnetic coil would activate when the individual performed arithmetic tests, which would open the gateway allowing for the release of the drug.
This could have multiple uses should the process be transferred to drug release in the human body. The programming could be aimed at detecting fluctuations in brain activity linked to ADHD, and the nanomachines contained drugs aimed at limiting ADHD symptoms, then this could be an efficient way to combat it. Similarly, mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety or schizophrenia could be targeted through this manner, with the end result being that medication would be automatically taken by the human body whenever it was necessary to take it. On a non-medical level, however, this could be used to trigger the release of any form of drug under any form of thought pattern, therefore, misuse of this possibility is something that needs to be taken into account.
Not only would this method of administering medication hugely reduce side-effects, but the machines themselves can be pinned to specific parts of the body, meaning that should drugs need administering to one particular section or organ within the body, this can be specifically targeted – again reducing harmful side-effects that could damage other parts of the body.
To make this a reality, an EEG cap would need to be far smaller than it is today, and would still need to register brain activity whilst being portable by humans. The technology to create the EM field does indeed already exist, and could easily fit in small watches, however this brings up the possibility of interference if individuals cross paths.