Concepts: MedicineBioengineering.

Diagnostic Mosquitoes as Body Boring Machines


Evolve mosquitoes with long proboscises, then print a microcircuit to interface with its brain, connect and train a neural net to control it.


To diagnose a diseases (like an internal local infection), a non-invasive way of sampling deep tissues is required. It is obviously very possible to do that with the currently existing medical needles -- just apply enough force, and it'll go through pretty much any tissue, except the hard bonny (unless ultrasound vibration, or rotation is applied, making it drill through them). However, there is still a risk of damaging some nerves or other sensitive structures. A modern needle is no boring machine, and there are limits to where it can go, and how non-invasively.

  • 184 μm diameter: the thinnest 34G needles in common use today.
  • 40-100 µm diameter: mosquito proboscis (and it is able to control direction and sense the tissue.) . 17~180 µm: diameter of human hair.
  • 4-6 μm: diameter of electrode wires used by NeuraLink (but they cannot suck blood)

The fascinating thing about mosquito proboscis is that it is able to pry open the further access to tissue using 6 tightly packed needles, with specialized tiny teeth to cut through the skin, and receptors of blood, and specialized needle to inject anticoagulant and anesthetic.

How? Well, since the mosquito head size is perhaps close to 1 mm. Mosquito brain is said to have approx. 220,000 neurons, and with say, a dated 10 nm CPU photolitography process, it would easily be possible to arrange easily 100,000,000 transistors in a square mm, so, perhaps the approach could be -- to cut open a living mosquito head, and insert a very thin silicon wafer with a circuit printed on it. Once connected to a computer, we could learn how to control the movements of proboscis and suction.

The shorcoming of proboscis, is that it is rather short -- just shy of 2 cm for largest of mosquitoes. It may have not evolved a long proboscis, because short one is sufficient to reach blood in most cases. However, it doesn't mean that the proboscis couldn't be artificially evolved to become longer, for example, by artificially selecting mosquitoes by giving to bite for blood over a thicker honeycomb-like structure, that prevents the mosquito head from approaching too close to the skin, so that only mosquitoes with relatively longer proboscis could reach the blood for survival. Such selection could perhaps evolve mosquitoes with very long proboscis, that then could be used for medicinal purposes.

Sure, I anticipate your worries about someone releasing mosquitoes with very long proboscises to the wild.

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