Interviewer: Doctor, can you talk about nanotechnology a little bit? You touched on that earlier. What does that entail? How might that exactly work once that science gets developed?
Dr. Terry Grossman: Nanotechnology is technology done on the scale, on a very small scale. There is an engineer working on this now, in California, Robert Freitas. What he's doing is, he's actually drawing out the blueprints for how what he refers to as "nanobots" will work. For instance, in our body we have these cells called red blood cells. And we have other cells called white blood cells. Red blood cells, their primary purpose is to circulate throughout our body, and to deliver oxygen, and to pick up carbon dioxide. It takes the oxygen from our lungs, delivers it to our tissues, picks up carbon dioxide, and delivers it to our lungs to be exhaled out. Our red blood cells do a pretty good job of that. We couldn't survive without it, but Dr. Freitas has designed nanobiotic red blood cells which he refers to as "respirocytes." With just one ounce of these respirocytes injected into our bloodstream, these could circulate through the body and deliver all of the oxygen that we need for a matter of a couple of hours.
Let's look at some practical applications. You want to go scuba diving. No longer do you need a scuba tank, and all this gear. You just take an injection of the respirocytes, and now you can go and have an ample supply of oxygen for a couple of hours. Let's take an example of someone who wants to run a marathon. Inject the respirocytes, now you've got plenty of oxygen and you can run for a long time before you get that cramping in your tissues that you get because they run out of oxygen. These are more frivolous applications. How about something more serious? A patient has a heart attack. Now their heart stops. We don't have a very good method for delivering oxygen to the tissues. We do CPR, which does not a great job of that, but how about if as soon as someone had a heart attack, their heart stopped, cardiac arrest, the paramedics on the scene were able to give an injection of these respirocytes? Now they circulate throughout the body, they deliver oxygen to the brain and all the other vital organs. We have enough to last us a couple of hours, enough time to take the patient to the hospital, where we can then take a cloned heart made out of their own stem cells to replace the damaged organ; things like that.
In the future, the nanobiotic technologies are extremely exciting. Similarly, our white blood cells; one of their main functions is to identify invaders: bacteria, viruses, parasites, cancer cells. They have designs for nanobiotic white blood cells, which Dr. Freitas has referred to as "microbivores." These devices, they have little, tiny lasers in them. They have the ability to detect if there's a virus or a cancer cell, and with its little, tiny laser just zap it. And they can be programmed externally. We can say, "Oh, there's this type of virus in the community, so let's set up this program so it'll destroy these pathogens before they can have a chance to harm us." As we can see, there are some very exciting things ahead with the nanotechnology.