Using Nanobots to Treat Depression

Alejandro Alvarez
September 22nd 2016

Keep calm and carry on; don’t worry be happy; just stop being sad! If we could treat depression just by saying corny catchphrases or repeating mantras, life would be easier. Well, now we are a step closer to this scenario, but instead of saying a phrase you have to do math.

A team of Israeli scientists has developed a new way to efficiently deliver drugs into our body using nanobots as vehicles and our toughts as controllers. They were inspired by the fact that Encephalopathy (EEG) can detect certain signs of abnormal brain activity, so they used this to reverse engineer EEG in order to control nanobots.

To do this, they first trained an algorithm to differentiate when the brain was resting and when it was doing math calculations. This algorithm was part of software that controlled an electromagnetic coil that could be heated up affecting the receptive nanobots. Then they injected the nanonbots carrying a fluorescent drug into cockroaches. After this they put the insects inside the coil. This way when the subject started to make calculations the nanobots inside the insect were activated and then they could turn them off just by taking a break.

Process of mind controlled nanobots

Their main goal of the research is to create a wearable that constantly monitors the brain of patients with mental disorders. When it detects an abnormal sign it activates the previously injected nanobots carrying the drugs so they can do their job in a very efficient and precise manner. Making the healing process seem natural and improving the life quality of patients.

This is not the only application for this new technology, it could avoid overdoses and treat new brain conditions, but beyond the medical sphere there are many fields were it can be applied. As Shachar Arnon, one of the authors of the experiment, puts it: “Imagine if you could deliver the exact amount of alcohol that you wanted to keep you in a happy state but not drunk. Kind of stupid, but this could happen”. The same principle could be used to change the way we wake up, or sleep, or how recreational drugs are used.

And for the patients who don’t like math and love inspirational quotes, the algoritm could also be trained to respond to happy thougths and phrases, giving a new significance to positive thinking.

Source: Plos. Image: Cary Wolinsky

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Should men be able to give birth to children?


Koert van Mensvoort: Is the artificial womb frankenstein-like symbol of (male) engineers trying to steal the magical womb from women? Or… is it a feminist project and needed to reach through equality between the sexes? I personally lean towards the latter. To me it feels like progress if a girl can tell a guy to carry the womb for a change.

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