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
A research team in Hungary pinched the coronavirus with a fine needle to measure how much force it could take before popping like a balloon. It did not. The native virion of Sars-CoV-2 – a [...]
Headaches, confusion and delirium experienced by some Covid-19 patients could be the result of the coronavirus directly invading the brain, according to a study published Wednesday. The research is still preliminary – but offers several [...]
By Boris M | Published in Coronavirus During the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a lot of information about the virus and its effects on mental health. That’s because coronavirus and the social, financial and psychological [...]
A serious illness suffered by an Oxford University coronavirus vaccine trial participant was most likely “life-threatening”, a bioethics researcher says. But that doesn’t mean the clinical trials will be scrapped. AstraZeneca and Oxford University [...]
Analysis of seven trials finds dexamethasone and hydrocortisone should be given in severe cases. Studies around the world have confirmed that steroids can save lives in the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to new recommendations from [...]
Experts say strong evidence of efficacy needed to avoid approval of inferior vaccines. The rush to immunise populations against Covid-19 could lead to the rollout of a vaccine that is not very effective and [...]
The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the news cycle for the better part of 2020. As guidelines are continually updated to reflect changes in our understanding of how the virus spreads, it is critical people [...]
Scientists in Hong Kong have reported the first confirmed case of reinfection with the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, reportedly backed up by genetic sequences of the two episodes of the 33-year-old man’s infections in March and [...]
Could uncomfortable nasal swabs be swapped for a contactless two-second breathalyzer puff to check for Covid-19 infection? Prof. Hossam Haick thinks so. Haick, a professor of chemical engineering and nanotechnology at the Technion – [...]
The relationship between antibodies for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and immunity, vaccine efficacy, and spread of COVID-19 has received significant attention. Dr. Seheult is back to illustrate why T cells have received less [...]
Images Description Three individuals were admitted to the hospital (ages 46–56; to men and one woman) with a multiday history of symptoms associated with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and underwent [...]
Study of nose and throat reveals why people with COVID-19 may lose their sense of smell Researchers studying tissue removed from patients' noses during surgery believe they may have discovered the reason why so [...]
Researchers around the world are racing to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, with more than 170 candidate vaccines now tracked by the World Health Organization (WHO). Vaccines normally require years of testing and additional time to [...]