Nanobots are closer and closer to becoming a reality with real-world applications in various fields such as robotics, manufacturing, medicine, and so on. Now, a team of scientists from The Pennsylvania State University developed nanobot pumps to eliminate nerve agents, reported the American Chemical Society. The outcomes of the study will be presented today at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Ayusman Sen, a Ph.D. at the Pennsylvania State University and the study’s leading author, reported that the nanobots pumps development occurred after he and his team researched the possibility of creating nanobots from enzymes.
“We have been looking at how to convert chemical energy into motion. We take the energy that’s generated from catalytic reactions to cause the motion of enzymes,” said Ayusman Sen. Using naturally-occurring enzymes, Sen and his co-workers managed to develop nanobots or, more specifically, a kind of nanobot pumps.
Researchers developed nanobot pumps to eliminate nerve agents
“If we take enzymes and anchor them to a surface so they cannot move, and we give them their reactant, they end up pumping the fluid surrounding them. So they act as miniature fluid pumps that can be used for a variety of applications,” explained Sen.
Accordingly, Sen and his colleagues developed nanobot pumps using organophosphorus acid anhydrolase enzyme which can eliminate organophosphates, a class of nerve agents commonly used in combat or terrorist attacks. Binding the enzyme on a gel that also contained an antidote, the researchers observed that the exposure to organophosphates is activating the enzyme.
“The enzyme actively pumps in the organophosphate compound and destroys it, and at the same time pumps out an antidote,” explained Sen.
The newly developed nanobot pumps for eliminating nerve agents could end up as a mandatory accessory in combat zones or during terrorist attacks involving organophosphates nerve agents.