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
University of Seville researchers, in collaboration with the University of Nottingham, have managed to create the first image of nanoparticles of stabilised gold with biodegradable and biocompatible systems that have been obtained with 3D-printng [...]
Researchers have used liquid metals to develop new bacteria-destroying technology that could be the answer to the deadly problem of antibiotic resistance. The technology uses nano-sized particles of magnetic liquid metal to shred bacteria [...]
Lithium ion batteries often grow needle-like structures between electrodes that can short out the batteries and sometimes cause fires. Now, an international team of researchers has found a way to grow and observe these [...]
Researchers from ETH Zurich and the National University of Singapore have developed a new kind of bandage that helps blood to clot and doesn’t stick to the wound (Nature Communications, "Superhydrophobic hemostatic nanofiber [...]
Some quantum computers and networks store their information in an electron’s spin, which can be up or down – like the zeros or ones in a conventional computer. They can also be a combination [...]
The device uses lasers to accelerate electrons along an etched channel. In a full-scale particle accelerator, electrons fly along a kilometers-long path as microwaves bombard them, boosting the particles to near light speed. Such a [...]
Researchers found a way to create lasers smaller than red blood cells. These microlasers convert infrared light into light at higher frequencies. Made from nanoparticles, these are among the smallest, continuously emitting lasers of [...]
AS artificial intelligence technology continues to develop, like any new tech, questions begin to arise on its capabilities in warfare. Technology could ultimately be catastrophic for mankind. During an interview with Express.co.uk, he argued [...]
The University of Surrey has developed a robust multi-layer nano-barrier for ultra-lightweight and stable carbon fibre reinforced polymers (CFRPs) that could be used to build high precision instrument structures for future space missions. CFRP [...]
Scientists at the University of Otago in New Zealand say they have discovered how viruses that specifically kill bacteria can outwit bacteria by hiding from their defenses. These findings are important for the development [...]
Most synthetic materials, including those in battery electrodes, polymer membranes, and catalysts, degrade over time because they don't have internal repair mechanisms. If you could distribute autonomous microrobots within these materials, then you could [...]
For the first time, researchers have been able to record, frame-by-frame, how an electron interacts with certain atomic vibrations in a solid. The technique captures a process that commonly causes electrical resistance in materials [...]
Each Cyclops had a single eye because, legend has it, the mythical giants traded the other one with the god Hades in return for the ability to see into the future. But Hades tricked [...]