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September 26th, 2004
Engineers expect that tomorrow's nanomachines - biomolecular devices that might patrol cells, repair genes, scour out infections, and haul away debris - will be powered by nature's own motors: the proteins kinesin, myosin, and dynein, which turn adenosine triphosphate (ATP) into fuel and move loads along microtubular tracks of actin and tubulin.
It makes sense to use these off-the-shelf engines as they're 1,000 times smaller than anything humans can yet build. But recent research indicates that by the time bioengineers are ready to begin assembling their intracellular delivery vehicles, they will have a wider range of motors to choose from.
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