In the future, many diseases could be treated with tiny robots swimming in the blood, delivering drugs, and so on,media New Atlas reported. The latest test of the medical machine comes from researchers at the Max Planck Institute, who inspired white blood cells to create a new miniature robot that can move “upside down” in the blood.
The robot is essentially a glass particle, less than eight microns wide. Half are filmcoated with a layer of nickel and gold, and the other half carry a drug payload. In this test, the payload is an antibody that fights cancer molecules and identifies cancer cells. The new robot doesn’t swim in the blood like other micro-robots do, but moves along the walls of blood vessels, much like white blood cells. The direction of this movement can be controlled from the outside of the body by a magnetic field. When the power is switched on, one side of the metal coating pulls the sphere in that direction.
The researchers tested the simulated blood vessels in the lab and found that the magnetic force was strong enough to drag the robot against the current. When turned off, the robot simply flows with blood, allowing scientists to precisely control which parts of the body the machine moves.
“Using magnetic fields, our micro-robots can swim upstream through simulated blood vessels, which is challenging due to strong blood flow and dense cellular environments. Yunus Alapan, lead author of the study, said. “No micro-robots today can afford this blood flow. In addition, our robots are able to identify ‘interested’ cells, such as cancer cells, on their own. They can do this, thanks to a cell-specific antibody coated on their surface. They can then release drug molecules as they move. “
In these tests, the team calculated the speed of the robot and found that it was up to 600 microns per second. This makes them the fastest of these-scale magnetic micro-robots. Researchers say “hordes” of micro-robots will be able to function in the human body. That’s because a single robot is too small to see with most imaging techniques and can’t carry enough drugs on its own.
While much remains to be done to get them to this stage, the team hopes the technology will enable the precise treatment of a range of diseases and diseases.
The study was published in the journal Science Robotics.