Xenobots: a programmable living organism
Scientists of Tufts University and University of Vermont created novel self-healing robots just by repurposing stem cells of the frog embryo. They named them as Xenobots, after the name of the species it has been extracted i.e. African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis).
Some of its characteristics include
- Its size- less than a millimeter (0.004inches)
- It can travel inside human bodies, as according to Michael Levin who directs the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts “We can imagine many useful applications of these living robots that other machines can’t do, like searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering micro plastic in the oceans, traveling in arteries to scrape out plaque.”
- They can heal themselves.
- Already first of its own kind that is living organism but fully programmable.
- They are of adhesive nature like water i.e. they follow one another forming a stream and they work in groups or clusters.
How this became real
We know that we can program our devices right? This thing is pretty similar. First things first they got a super computer i.e. UVM’s Vermont Advanced Computing Core. So, they ran an evolutionary based algorithm. These algorithm on the super computer when ran, created millions of assemblage of cells to make new life forms. Evolution based algorithm meant like they begin their assemblage from the beginning to modern like from Porifera to Animalia in this case. On that, the failed designs were neglected and the successful ones were filtered out. It’s as simple as if you ever watched Ben-10. Like that when ben tapped Omnitrix his DNA get mutated and cells begin to rearrange themselves to give him a new alien form. Then these filtered designs were shaped in form of silico designs. Then, the team at Tufts, led by Levin and with key work by microsurgeon Douglas Blackiston, they first took out cluster of the frog stem cells and then separated them to single cells and incubated them. Then, they cut the cells and joined the silico designs inside them. And for the first time they showed an assemblage that seemed to be impossible by now i.e. Designs that are completely biological machines.
Part for environment
As we had given a major renovation until we started making better and better machines but the problem with every machine like laptop, computer, phones and mostly others were if they got ripped they will just contribute to trash which is of non- biodegradable products.
Also read: Voyager 1 : Farthest man made object in Interstaller space
But this new technology is totally biodegradable that makes it safer for the environment. It uses the energy storage of the cell to move and work and even to heal it in case of any injuries but once the replenished their energy store they die down like fallen beetles.
- In medical field in surgeries, to give medications etc.
- They could be used to clean up radioactive waste, collect micro-plastics in the oceans.
- xenobots can survive in aqueous environments without additional nutrients for days or weeks. It makes them suitable for internal drug delivery.
- Xenobots also can help researchers to learn more about cell biology and opening the doors to future advancement in human health and longevity.
Whatever be the future prospects about it all we know is that it’s one of its kind inventions like we saw in cartoon like cyborg i.e. a combination of living organism and computer design. It can be programed, healed and could help man kind in various ways. They are still studying all of its behavior as it is complex but maybe it’s the door to a new dimension of education. Take care till next time, smile.