Targeting medical treatment to an ailing body part is a practice as old as medicine itself. A Band-Aid is placed on a skinned knee. Drops go into itchy eyes. A broken arm goes into a cast.
But often what ails us is inside the body and is not so easy to reach. In such cases, a treatment like surgery or chemotherapy might be called for. A pair of researchers in Caltech’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science are working on an entirely new form of treatment–microrobots that can deliver drugs to specific spots inside the body while being monitored and controlled from outside the body.
“The microrobot concept is really cool because you can get micromachinery right to where you need it,” says Lihong Wang, Caltech’s Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering.
“It could be drug delivery, or a predesigned microsurgery.”
The microrobots are a joint research project of Wang and Wei Gao, assistant professor of medical engineering, and are intended for treating tumors in the digestive tract.
The microrobots consist of microscopic spheres of magnesium metal coated with thin layers of gold and parylene, a polymer that resists digestion. The layers leave a circular portion of the sphere uncovered, kind of like a porthole. The uncovered portion of the magnesium reacts with the fluids in the digestive tract, generating small bubbles. The stream of bubbles acts like a jet and propels the sphere forward until it collides with nearby tissue.
On their own, magnesium spherical microrobots that can zoom around might be interesting, but they are not especially useful. To turn them from a novelty into a vehicle for delivering medication, Wang and Gao made some modifications to them.
Image Credit: Caltech
News This Week
What if you didn’t need surgery to implant a pacemaker on a faulty heart? What if you could control your blood sugar levels without an injection of insulin, or mitigate the onset of a [...]
Guided by artificial intelligence and powered by a robotic platform, a system developed by MIT researchers moves a step closer to automating the production of small molecules that could be used in medicine, solar [...]
Thin, flexible fibers made of carbon nanotubes have now proven able to bridge damaged heart tissues and deliver the electrical signals needed to keep those hearts beating. Scientists at Texas Heart Institute (THI) report they have [...]
The lab of Cheryl Kerfeld at Michigan State University has created a synthetic nano-sized factory, based on natural ones found in bacteria. This research could someday lead to new medical, industrial or bioenergy [...]
Melanoma in skin biopsy with H&E stain — this case may represent superficial spreading melanoma. Credit: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0 Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a novel nano-vaccine for melanoma, the most aggressive [...]
Modern light microscopic techniques provide extremely detailed insights into organs, but the terabytes of data they produce are usually nearly impossible to process. New software, developed by a team led by MDC scientist Dr. [...]
It has long been known that gold can be used to do things that philosophers have never even dreamed of. The Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Cracow has [...]
“We’ll have nanobots that… connect our neocortex to a synthetic neocortex in the cloud. Our thinking will be a…. biological and non-biological hybrid.” Ray Kurzweil, TED 2014 UPDATE - August 6 2019 Since [...]
DARPA has awarded funding to six organizations to support the Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program, first announced in March 2018. Battelle Memorial Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Palo Alto [...]
Source: Bold Business. Follow them on twitter. Though you may not realize it, more than 40,000 computer-brain interfaces have already been employed in healthcare today. Thus, to say computer-brain interfaces are something new would [...]
It is hard to imagine just how small one nanometer—one-billionth of a meter—really is. Ten hydrogen atoms in a row are one nanometer long. For perspective, consider that a sheet of paper is 75,000 [...]
Scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have designed a new chip device that provides excellent identification of minuscule blood residues for forensic applications. Criminologists detect microscopic blood drops, as well as DNA, [...]