Respirocytes are artificial red blood cells, a Nano machine proposed by Robert. A. Freitas Jr., in the year 1996. It is a hypothetical mechanical Nano device, hollow and spherical in shape, 1 micron in diameter, which can duplicate the function of natural erythrocytes by transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide within the body, supplying fresh oxygen to tissues and collecting and removing carbon dioxide or other toxic gases from the tissue. Due to the limitations of current technology, the fabrication of machines in the micro scale with components in the Nano size range is not possible at present. But, in another 30 years, the development of a Nano robot that can make Nano devices on its own will be possible, and this development will lead to the mass production of numerous Nano machines that will impact the practice of medicine, specifically Nanomedicine in early 21st century. Using this, the physicians will be able to treat patients in the molecular and cellular level.
To withstand a pressure as high as 1000 Atmosphere, the material chosen as the structural component of a respirocyte, is the hardest material diamond, which is also proved to be biocompatible. A respirocyte has mainly three chambers. One is an oxygen vessel that contains oxygen gas, another is a carbon dioxide vessel that stores carbon dioxide and third is a water ballet that helps maintaining buoyancy. There are specific rotors for the function of controlled uptake and release of oxygen and carbon dioxide. There is also a rotor that allows the passage of glucose into the device, which is combined with the oxygen from the internal storage tank to produce energy required for the working of respirocyte. This is done by an embedded fuel cell. The physician can send messages to the Nano machines inside the body, in the form of mechanical pressure pulses that are received by the mechanical acoustic transducers on the surface of the respirocyte, which is then converted into mechanical motions that becomes the input into a mechanical computer with pressure driven actuators. Various sensors are also needed to sense external data needed to regulate the gas loading and unloading functions. An on-board computer is also essential to control the working of various rotors, energy distribution, to interpret the data from the sensors and from outside, to automatically detect system failures and take remedial measures, etc.
In the case of normal red blood corpuscles, only 25% of the stored oxygen is accessible to the tissues, whereas the entire 100% of the oxygen in a respirocyte is available for the body tissues, making it possible for enhancing the natural human capabilities with increased or maximum dosage. The applications and uses of respirocytes are extensive in the medical field. It can be mainly used as a blood substitute in case of emergency situations in which a patient suffers a lack of oxygen supply, such as drowning, choking, or any other form of asphyxia. Special respirocytes can be made, that can possibly be used for quick removal of poisonous gases like carbon monoxide or nitrogen (while diving) from the system, avoiding fatality.
Respirocytes can also be used to treat all types of anaemia, foetal or child related issues like erythroblastosis fetalis and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), to treat respiratory diseases like different types of pneumonia, asbestosis, silicosis, cases of emphysema, flooding of blood in lungs, etc. It could also act as a long term medicine-free treatment for asthma and for various lung diseases resulting from smoking and alcoholism. It has several cardio-vascular and neuro-vascular applications like maintaining the tissue oxygenation level during surgeries. Other applications that allow super human capabilities is the use of respirocytes for easy breathing in hazardous conditions like deep sea diving and helping in achieving new sports records in running, swimming and games like football, basketball and soccer, where a sustained maximum exertion is needed for an extended time.
The possible risks involved in the use of a foreign agent inside a living system are studied theoretically to some extent, ruling out the possibility of fatal risk. The jamming of rotors can be detected by the inbuilt computer and remedial measures taken. Even if all the rotors get jammed together, the energy generated is absorbed by the heat sink. Single device explosion does not cause any damage to surrounding cells or tissues. It is proposed that only dental grinding can cause the device to explode, resulting in nothing more than 'fizziness' in the mouth. The respirocytes can be removed from the body by passing the blood from the patient through a specialized centrifugation apparatus, in which the respirocytes are separated due its differentiating property of the ability to maintain neutral buoyancy.
The successful fabrication of respirocytes in future will surely inspire the application of Nanomedicine for enhanced treatment of a wide range of diseases. Even though respirocytes will be primarily used for treating emergency respiratory problems, finally it will lead to a permanent replacement of natural red blood cells. This may be the ultimate legacy of respirocytes.
About Author / Additional Info:
I am a graduate in Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering, thoroughly interested in Nanobiotechnology.