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Medicine's Fantastic Voyage

Creating A Medical Nanobot - High Throughput Construction Of Large Medical Nanobot Libraries

James Robb, MD, Pathology, 08:19AM Jan 16, 2014

Dear Colleagues, there are two major speed bumps in the development of clinically useful medical nanobots. One speed bump is their stepwise complex construction. The second is the subsequent optimization of the desired nanobot physiochemical properties for enhanced therapeutic patient outcomes.

The gist: The high throughput construction of large collections of different types of medical nanobots allows the rapid selection of nanobots with specific physiochemical properties. These properties optimize patient care and safety.

The recent work by Paul M. Valencia ( and the summary of this work by Erkin Seker (Science Translational Medicine, Finding The Proverbial needle, 2013;5:214ec201) describe a microfluidic platform for the rapid synthesis and screening of nanobots. The system has properties that ensure the uptake of the nanobots by cancer cells and that limit clearance of the nanobots by the immune system.

The microfluidic device mixes various nanobot precursors at controllable ratios. This mixing produces tens of different formulations of polymeric particles with custom-made physiochemical properties. Selection of the specific nanobots that have the desired properties allows the nanobots to evade the immune system, target the cancer cells, and deliver the selected therapeutic substance in an optimal manner. 

A murine model confirmed that 25-30 nm polymer nanoparticles with higher polyethylene glycol (PEG) content and longer PEG molecules (10 kD) optimally evaded macrophage phagocytosis. Nanoparticles with less than 200 PEG molecules per nanoparticle had significantly more uptake by human prostate cancer cells in vitro and in vivo (murine model) than nanoparticles with more than 200 PEG molecules per nanoparticle.

This research is an excellent proof of principle for the high throughput construction and screening of medical nanobot libraries. These libraries can be used for a broad spectrum of human disease. As Seker, however, states, "before the platform is clinic-ready, a recipe book of precursor concentrations and flow rates should be compiled for reproducibly obtaining a library of nanoparticles with validated property combinations."

This type of research is just the beginning step, and a very important one, in developing the wide array of simple and complex patient-specific medical nanobots that will be necessary for diagnosing and treating the wide variety of human disease.

Thanks, Jim.


About This Blog

This blog will discuss new technologies that are entering the diagnostic and treatment arenas. Information given here is intended to help pathologists and laboratory technicians anticipate, understand, tolerate, accept, and subsequently implement these new technologies into their work.

Disclosure: James A. Robb, MD, has disclosed the following relevant financial relationships: Served as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant, or trustee for: Biomatrica, Inc.; Strategic Visions, Inc.
Received income in an amount equal to or greater than $250 from: Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. (formerly SAIC-Frederick) Consulting Pathologist to the National Cancer Institute, NIH and The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital (NCI-TCGA).
Poll: The drug piceatannol, which was delivered to the adhered PMNs, inhibits which of the following pathways? 1) The pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) pathway|2) The Cy5-FcGamma endocytotic pathway|3) The "outside-in" beta-2 integrin signaling pathway via the FcGamma pathway|4) The "outside-in" beta-2 integrin signaling pathway via the Syk phosphorylation pathway|5) #1 and #3 are correct.|

  • James Robb

    Dr. Robb is board certified in anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, cytopathology, and dermatopathology. Dr. Robb is currently a Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. (formerly SAIC-Frederick, Inc) consulting pathologist to the National Cancer Institute, NIH, HHS. He has been Senior Surgeon at NIH, Professor of Pathology at University California at San Diego; staff pathologist at Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, California; Director of Anatomic and Molecular Pathology, Cedars MC, Miami, Florida; and Medical Director of the HCA East Florida Divisions Integrated Regional Laboratories system, and College of American Pathologists governor.

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