The Orion's Arm Universe Project Forums

This is not a robot [/vent]
There's a story doing the rounds on reddit, Facebook etc that is boiling my blood at the moment (and is relevant to OA). The story reports that South Korean researchers have developed a nanobot that when injected into the blood will seek out and destroy cancer cells. The reality is far from this which is hugely frustrating because it is a fascinating avenue of potential research. (crap reporting)

In reality what the researchers have done is engineer bacteria to preferentially migrate towards proteins that are expressed by cancer cells more than other types of tissue (the idea of targeting these factors is not new and some treatments rely on it IRL). They then have attached microbeads to the bacteria containing anti-cancer drugs. The bacteria migrate preferentially to tumours, the beads break down and you have a targeted delivery of treatment. Fascinating, not entirely unique (the bacteria part is but not the rest) and definitely not a nanobot. (slightly less crap reporting)

This doesn't just aggravate me professionally on a point of technicality but also because it creates hype and misinformation about important fields. In decades to come people will be wondering why all those stories of cancer fighting robots they heard about recently haven't come true (in spite of better cancer treatments that were the real story) and at best will become disillusioned with nanomedicine in general and worse dangerously misinformed about treatment options.
Hm. Ok, here's a suggestion (in the making lemonade category).

One of the things we've decided to do this year is put more emphasis on the 'Real Life but OA Relevant' aspect of the project. This to eventually include a section of the redesigned website, the subforum here, and a column on V:FT. Hm. Maybe our Facebook page too?

Would you have the time/inclination to do a short article as a professional in the Nanotech field responding to this news story and pointing out the issues with it as well as what the state of the art is actually doing in this area?

We could put the link to this news item and your response together so that people could read them both.

The one potential issue I see with this is if the news story vanishes in the near future (because sometimes they do that) although there are ways we might address that if needed. The next issue of the ezine should be coming out in late Jan/early Feb but we could potentially have this posted in other OA places well before that if it workss out better that way.

Just a thought,

Interesting idea Todd, I think I'd enjoy putting together a short piece outlining the problems of nano science reporting. I'll jot some ideas down when time permits Smile

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