A leading global chemist has come to the Sunshine Coast to discuss how his team is close to creating a successful nano submarine that could revolutionise the healthcare system.
When asked what exactly a “nano submarine” was, University of California San Diego chair of nanoengineering professor Joseph Wang described it as like something taken from the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage, where medical personnel board a submarine were shrunk to microscopic size to travel through the bloodstream of a wounded diplomat and save his life.
Professor Wang said his team was getting closer to the goal of using nano submarines in a variety of ways, minus the shrunken humans and sabotage of the 1966 film.
“It’s like the Fantastic Voyage movie, where you want to improve therapeutic and diagnostic abilities through proper timing and proper location to improve efficiency,” he said.
“It is like shrinking a big submarine a million times to get the nano-scale submarine.
“We use special nano fabrications to create it.
“You can call it submarine or a nano machine, there are different names for it.”
One nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. To put this into perspective, a strand of human DNA is 2.5 nanometers in diameter while a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
Professor Wang said the nano submarines could be tailored to specific applications, including diagnosis, treatment and imaging and would use energy within the body’s system to generate its movement.
“It is powered by the blood, by chemical in the blood like glucose, it can autonomously move in blood,” he said.
“This is all part of what we call nano medicine, precision medicine that we use to improve medicines.
“It could improve imaging, diagnosis, treatment, it is multifunctional.”
Professor Wang said there was a fair way to go before human testing could begin, but said the pioneering work could improve drug treatments by providing a more targeted approach.
“Compared to (current) drug delivery, it could take cargo, the drug, and dispose it at the right location, right time and could improve the efficiency of drug,” he said.
Professor Wang was presenting a free public seminar on nano submarines at University of Sunshine Coast’s Innovation Centre at Sippy Downs.