The nanobots are coming! Scientists have found that nanotech robots, once the stuff of science fiction, can travel through the blood and turn off cancer genes in tumors — effectively providing all the benefits of chemotherapy without the nasty side effects. The therapy was recently tested for the first time on humans.

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According to a study led by Mark Davis at the California Institute of Technology, nanotech robots can use a method called RNA interference to find proteins associated with cancer growth and turn them off. In a study of three patients with melanoma, small polymer robots covered with transferrin (a protein) were able to get inside tumor cells. No word on if the nanobot injections were able to shrink the tumors, but it is encouraging to see that the ‘bots can at least find their way to the cancer.

And then there are, of course, the potential safety issues. What do you think–would you allow researchers to inject tiny robots into your blood? It’s an imperfect science, to say the least, and one that has been speculated about by fearful science fiction buffs for years.

+ Nature