Skip to main content

Thought control used to release drugs contained in nanobots into living host

TEDMED Israel 2013 "Cómo los nanobots cambiarán la medicina" (Dr. Ido Bachelet)
No, it’s not a scene from a 1980s David Cronenberg horror/sci-fi movie: researchers really have managed to use human brain waves to remotely control drug-releasing nanobots inside a living cockroach.

The work was carried out by Israeli researchers and published under the title “Thought-Controlled Nanoscale Robots in a Living Host,” in a recent issue of the academic journal PLoS ONE.

“On a high level, what we achieved is putting nanorobots inside a living host, a cockroach in this particular setup,” lead author Shachar Arnon, a former computer science graduate student at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, told Digital Trends. “We were then able to activate them using our brain, and used that interface to make them release a drug, controlled entirely by our thoughts.”

The nanoscale robots were created by folding DNA, using a method devised by Dr. Ido Bachelet, who also worked on the project. These nanobots open up when heated, releasing a glowing chemical in this study. They were placed into metal coils hooked up to a generator, which produced heat, and were injected into tropical locusts — which were reportedly unharmed by the experiment.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

When the human subjects wore electroencephalogram (EEG) helmets to record the electrical activity from their brains, the researchers were able to use machine learning technology to work out when their brains were producing a certain amount of activity. When brain activity hit a desired threshold, the nanoscale robots then released their cargo.

According to Arnon, it’s the first “proof of concept” step of the dream of one day using thoughts to control nanorobot-directed drugs as a delivery method within a person. It may be a while, though, before this can be used for medical treatment on people.

“Using EEG technology, I think one day this is going to be something which could be very reliable for medical use — as a way of controlling drug release inside a person’s body using a nanorobot,” he said. “It makes real sense. From something that would have been considered science-fiction just a few years ago, this is now something that is potentially very practical.”

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more
The 11 best Father’s Day deals that you can get for Sunday
Data from a workout showing on the screen of the Apple Watch Series 8.

Father's Day is fast approaching and there's still time to buy your beloved Dad a sweet new device to show him how much you love him. That's why we've rounded up the ten best Father's Day tech deals going on right now. There's something for most budgets here, including if you're able to spend a lot on your loved one. Read on while we take you through the highlights and remember to order fast so you don't miss out on the big day.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 -- $200, was $230

While it's the Plus version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 that features in our look at the best tablets, the standard variety is still worth checking out. Saving your Dad the need to dig out their laptop or squint at a small phone screen, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 offers a large 10.5-inch LCD display and all the useful features you would expect. 128GB of storage means plenty of room for all your Dad's favorite apps as well as games too. A long-lasting battery and fast charging save him the need for a power source too often too.

Read more