You could also have a pacemaker for muscles in different parts of your body, or a pacemaker for producing hormones or insulin, Ingber adds. If youre a diabetic, you could have cells that produce insulin put under your skin, and then inject nanoparticles that go to those cells. Then, when you have a meal and need more insulin, you could just use a magnet to cause the cells to produce more. So you wouldnt have to keep buying the drug and injecting it.
The nanomagnetic system could also interface with external instruments and computer controls that take in information from the body or the surrounding environment and activate the magnet as needed, Ingber adds.
A diabetic, for example, could have a transdermal glucose sensor that controls the magnet, which then controls the insulin production by itself. In the neonatal intensive care unit, sick newborns could have their heart and breathing rates monitored and their cells rigged to respond through magnetic stimulation, without a tangle of wires and probes. Or, on the battlefield, the magnet could trigger production of an antidote when a toxin or infectious agent is sensed in the environment.
But these examples are just theoretical. The applications are hard to define because were opening up a whole new area of control that never existed before, Ingber says.
|Contact: James Newton|
Children's Hospital Boston