Re: why atomic precision assemblers?

From: Robert Bradbury (
Date: Tue Jan 25 2000 - 06:21:24 MST

On Mon, 24 Jan 2000, gary tripp wrote:

> I had in mind a micromachine that could navigate the circulatory system
> and chip away/dissolve arterial plaque and sned back telemetry on our
> vital signs.

This is an "endotheliocyte". There is already a fairly large paper
on it done by Robert Freitas in conjunction with his development of
some of the concepts outlined in Nanomedicine. NM documents about
a dozen different kinds of nanobots to be used in medical applications.
So far extensive operating principles, rough architectures, etc. have
only been worked out for 2, the respirocyte for O2/CO2 storage and
the endotheliocyte for artery cleanup. There is a lot of work to
be done in this area and volunteers are welcome.

> It could be programmed to deliver a packet of benign viruses
> to a specific group of cells for purposes of genetic engineering or it
> might deliver a useful dose of chemotherapy to a tiny malignant tumor.

This too is covered in Nanomedicine. The capabilities of diamondoid
based nanobots are so great however, you don't have to drag in viruses.
They could do chemotherapy, but the simplest thing is to simply induce
apoptosis in tumor cells causing them to die away cleanly. Alternately
you could replace the genome entirely using "nuclear abortion". Interestingly
one of the things nanobots would have a hard time with is finding
specific mutations in your DNA and correcting them. They would have
to do it with nano-endoscopes with DNA reading and repair "tips" and
that seems a bit "iffy" to me. Of course if we ever get virus based
biotech so it accomplishes a little cut, paste and splice manipulation
in specific locations it could presumably be managed by the nanobots
as well. But I assure you that this is going to be a real "feat"
of genetic engineering. (On the other hand simply adding back in
functional copies of mutated p53 genes is already being done.)


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