New nanotube "microworms" could lead to new types of embeddable biological sensors or drug-delivery systems, according to researchers in Boston. The tubes' length keeps them well anchored in the body, where they can monitor chemical conditions or slowly leak medicine into targeted areas.
Researchers at MIT and Northeastern University developed the nanotubes, which are made of a porous membrane and can be filled with various materials.
There are plenty of other microparticle systems, including those that monitor medical conditions or deliver drugs to certain organs. But they are usually spherical and small enough to be swept away from their intended location. These tubular microworms, by contrast, are more easily anchored in a certain spot.
They are about 200 nanometers across, or less than one-hundredth the width of a human hair, allowing them to hang out in the body without triggering any immune response. To build the microworms, researchers used a chemical vapor deposition method, which involves coating materials by vaporizing a material and letting it float onto a surface. In this case, researchers coated an aluminum oxide layer that contains tiny pores. Then the coated material was dissolved away, an MIT news release explains. This leaves a series of hollow tubes in the pores' place, which can be filled and capped at either end.
The microworms could be filled with material that fluoresces under certain conditions, and then injected under the skin, allowing non-invasive continuous monitoring of biomedical phenomena. Diabetics could check their blood sugar simply by looking at their skin, for instance. The tiny tubes could also be used to slowly leak medicine into the body.
Karen Gleason, a chemical engineering professor at MIT, led the research effort, which is described in a forthcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
this could be a huge help to police when dealing with repeat DWI offenders. After the second or third DWI make them implant some of these in their forehead that will flouresce when their BAC is above legal limits. No more field sobriety tests required.
Or diabetes patients can check their blood sugar levels just by looking someplace on their bodies, no more pin pricks to check their blood.
endless possiblities really
The title just read to me; FUTURAMA.
Remember? When Fry eats that truck-stop sandwich and the worms repair/improve his body?
"Microworms" ... not the best name to describe something to future patients.
"You're gonna put WHAT in my body?!?"
They're just a series of tubes, you know, for kids.
ok, now it sounds like your trying to put kids toys in my arteries :P
Sounds like a great way to monitor blood sugar levels for diabetics. Would be much better then sticking your finger 4, 5, or more times a day. And it could be monitored constantly instead of just a few times a day. Wow! Please try this!