Re: Cyborg cells

Forrest Bishop (
Sat, 05 Jun 1999 14:10:34 -0700

> From:
> Date: Mon, 31 May 1999 03:20:40 EDT
> Subject: Re: Cyborg cells
> In a message dated 99-05-31 02:11:09 EDT, (Steve Massey)
> writes:
> >> Is it imaginable that some form of nanorganism could be made
> >> to reside in our cells, perhaps devouring a small share of the
> >> ATP produced by the mitochondria, and providing in return,
> >> some... some what? Intuition? spike

Yes, of course, but the term "organism" might be a bit misleading- it'sgenerally accepted that replicating machinery does not belong in vivo. In my view, there will be a continuum of nanotechnologies between purely biological and non-biological (of which Drexler's diamondoid is one simple example). A machine made of biomolecular components and structures is much easier to build (though not to design) owing to the vast array of existing self-assembly processes that can be brought to bear.

> >Thats a tough thought though... has any work been done towards
> >designs for compound eukaryote-drexler nanotech entities?

I have done some preliminary design work on such a device:============== Cell Rover Abstract

A micron-scale biomolecular, NEMS, and denovo protein device is proposed for invivo medical applications such as drug delivery, waste product removal, cell targeting, intracellular transport and cellular repair.

A modular design is considered, with an internal frame of keratin, chitin or calcium carbonate, skin panels made of bilipid layers (to permit biomolecular inclusions such as 'self' molecules), and one or more internal ‘organelles’ for mission-specific applications. Various Krebs cycle propulsion schemes are investigated, including bacterial cilia, bacterial flagella, systolic means, pilin harpoons and a novel external traction system utilizing kinesin or its analogs. A method of communicating (perhaps also supplying electric power) with its onboard control system is proposed, utilizing a deployable, submillimeter band single-molecule radio antenna.

> >Would it be possible to design 'stealth' nanites able to live
> >inside cells and suck up ATP for power? Would cyborg-amoebae
> >have any advantages over 'conventional' nanotech?

Several advantages: The above device (e.g.) is something that can be builtwithout the use of atomic assemblers. Power can be derived from natural, in vivo resourses. Biocompatibility can be engineered by making the machine appear to be a native cell. Bioprocesses are much easier to carry out, and much more efficient using existing pathways than using atomic assembly. Etc.

> A cyborg macrophage could mechanically dispose of nonreactive
> substances like asbestos. Chop it up, put it in small wrapped
> bundles, and put it in some secretion. This could be particularly
> handy for lungs.

This is one of the functions of the "Cell Rover", using internal, drop-inmodules for sequestering. It then excretes itself.

> Cells use a lot of microscopic motors for a host of functions (moving
> stuff around, going places) A motor with a greater power efficiency
> would be a real help.

Biological mechanisms such as the flagellar motor are already quiteefficient and available off the shelf. In judging efficiency, look at the overall system, not just the motor.

> Of course, drextech is currently designed on the assumption it operates
> in a vacuum free of ionizing radiation. I understand an aqueous
> environment full of reactive substances would be pretty hostile to drextech.

Rob Frietas does a lot of work with diamondoid in vivo, for his upcoming"Nanomedicine" textbook. Atomic assembly is not performed in vivo, so the vacuum problem goes away. He does speculate on diamondoid rod logic, encapsulated in impermeable vessels. A smooth, hydrogen-terminated diamond surface appears to be non-reactive and biocompatible.

Forrest Bishop
Interworld Productions, LLC
Institute of Atomic-Scale Engineering