Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart are one step closer to creating microbots to treat various diseases. At the moment, they have already successfully tested miniature robots that can safely move inside the eyeball. In addition, their size is so small that when “working” they do not even damage the dense and viscous substance of the vitreous body.
Miniature robots are 200 times thinner than a human hair and have a “drill” of inert material at one of their ends, and nanopropellers 500 nanometers wide at the other. The coating of nanobots itself is “slippery and streamlined”, which allows them to move without damaging the surrounding tissue.
The propellers already mentioned above, in addition to the main function of movement, are also a reservoir for therapeutic agents and are able to carry out targeted (that is, exactly where it is needed) delivery of drugs. And if we talk about similar developments that can be used in fluid liquids like blood, in this case, targeted delivery is fraught with a number of difficulties. The first is the viscous consistency of the inner part of the eyeball and the dense molecular matrix through which the robot must pass. The second is that the chemical properties of biopolymers inside the eye prevent the nanorobot from progressing. Well, the third is a kind of “standard” for such machines: the robot needs to be controlled somehow.
Experts have overcome the last voiced limitation by adding materials like iron, which react to the influence of a magnetic field. The other two were helped by biomaterial derived from insectivorous plants.
“We got the idea of the coating from nature itself. Some plants of the sarracene family have a very slippery surface in order to catch insects. It looks like a Teflon-coated frying pan. We have recreated this slippery coating and it is critical to the efficient movement of our robots within the eye, as it minimizes adhesion between the biological protein network in the vitreous humor and the surface of our nanorobots. ” – said the lead author of the study, Zinguan Wu.
Installation for the introduction and control of nanorobots
At the same time, the universal design of robots allows them to be used in other parts of the human body.
“We want to be able to use our robots as tools for minimally invasive treatment of all types of diseases, where there is a hard-to-reach area surrounded by dense tissue.”
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