Apr 14, 2014 I Paul Seaburn

Nanobots in Roaches – What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Roaches. If you can’t beat ‘em, why would you fill ‘em with nanobots so that they can live longer? For the good of mankind, of course!

Researchers from Wyss Institute at Harvard University and Bar Ilan University in Israel have created nanobots using DNA strands that fold and unfold like origami. They programmed the tiny - nanometers or one-billionth of a meter – robots to interact with each other, follow specific instructions and complete simple tasks. Their goal is to use the nanobots to precisely deliver and disperse drugs and chemicals inside the roaches and eventually in humans.

As reported in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers, led by Daniel Levner from Wyss Institute, created nanobot DNA whose sequences unfolded when it came in contact with a certain protein. They then targeted a protein in a cancerous cell, filled the nanobots with drugs and fluorescent markers for tracking and injected them into roaches.

Blaberus discoidalis roaches, a favorite of pet lizards, were used because their bodies don’t reject foreign objects inside them. A number of the nanobots eventually bumped into the cancer cells, unfolded and ejected their drug molecule successfully. In the future, the nanobots will be programmed to only respond to certain bacteria or viruses.

Ido Bachelet from Bar Ilan University’s Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials sees this as a way of turning roaches into computers.

The higher the number of robots present, the more complex the decisions and actions that can be achieved. If you reach a certain threshold of capability, you can perform any kind of computation. In this case, we have gone past that threshold.


The next step is to increase the computing power of the swarm of nanobots to form a roach biocomputer having the processing power of a Commodore 64 or Atari 800 system. That’s right – a roach with the power to read email, play video games, download porn and, of course, save mankind.

Human testing is expected to begin in five years.

roaches in computers 570x380
Will computer roaches solve the problem of roaches in computers?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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