Researchers at the City University of Hong Kong have developed a novel new robotic drug delivery system. The university 3D printed a few microscopic medical robots that deliver crucial medicines by crawling through the circulatory system. As a result, the robots deliver relief to the various tissue systems in the body. The team plans to evaluate the use of the robots for eventual clinical trials.
This new procedure is quite complex, as it allows specific coding and locational programming. The robots use magnets and researchers can thus control them with remotes that alter their external magnetic fields. The magnetics properties are due to the presence of nickel, while the titanium coating provide improved bio-compatibility. Consequently, the programmers can control where they go and heal precise locations in the body.
They have already tested these abilities in various living animals. Most prominently they used the researchers used robots to treat zebrafish embryos. The image below captures this same process in action.
Developing Nanotech Robots
Lead researcher Yunyang Li and his team first began prototyping the robots using computer models. Their main area of concern was in making a shape that could efficiently travel through the circulatory system. The microscopic medical robots that they developed were a lot more porous and burr-shaped. Then, they had to make sure that they could deal with the viscosity of blood properly.
While testing them on zebrafish embryos, the researchers led the robots using electro-magnetic coils. As a result, they treated the embryos with no damage to their cellular structure. In a test with mice, the researchers went further, tagging florescent cells that glowed when the robots reached their destination.
What they have achieved so far is impressive on it’s own, but their future ambitions for the project truly outline how deep the applications can go. At this point in time, the researchers hope to carry forward with clinical trials. They truly want to see this procedure become a form of standard, non-invasive medicine. They also hope to make the next models out of bio-degradeable materials. In a sense, they are looking to revolutionise medicine.
Featured image courtesy of City University of Hong Kong. Excerpts from the study are also available here.