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Sep 5, 2021

Tiny robots could deliver drugs directly to our central nervous system

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, nanotechnology, robotics/AI

The robots can tumble up slopes.


A new study investigates tiny tumbling soft robots that can be controlled using rotating magnetic fields. The technology could be useful for delivering drugs to the nervous system. In this latest study, researchers put the robots through their paces and showed that they can climb slopes, tumble upstream against fluid flow and deliver substances at precise locations to neural tissue.

Would you let a tiny MANiAC travel around your nervous system to treat you with drugs? You may be inclined to say no, but in the future, “magnetically aligned nanorods in alginate capsules” (MANiACs) may be part of an advanced arsenal of drug delivery technologies at doctors’ disposal. A recent study in Frontiers in Robotics and AI is the first to investigate how such tiny robots might perform as drug delivery vehicles in neural tissue. The study finds that when controlled using a magnetic field, the tiny tumbling soft robots can move against fluid flow, climb slopes and move about neural tissues, such as the spinal cord, and deposit substances at precise locations.

Diseases in the central nervous system can be difficult to treat. “Delivering drugs orally or intravenously, for example, to target cancers or neurologic diseases, may affect regions of the body and nervous system that are unrelated to the disease,” explained Lamar Mair of Weinberg Medical Physics, a medical device company based in the US and an industrial partner on the study. “Targeted drug delivery may lead to improved efficacy and reduced side-effects due to lower off-target dosing.”

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