Robots: Research published last month in the scientific journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI investigates an increasingly explored universe for countless medical applications: tiny, soft robots controlled by remote manipulation, capable of walking and transporting medicines over dense and bumpy surfaces inside the human body. .
When microrobots began to be developed for medicinal purposes, they were designed to move around in aqueous media and hard surfaces. It so happens that, inside our bodies, most surfaces are made of dense biological tissues, which required a redesign of these robotic structures, adapting them to this environment.
The solution found was a subcategory of these devices: oscillating microrobots, which make their walks guided by a rotating magnetic field. Delicate, these “magnetically aligned nanorods in alginate capsules” (MANiACs) move against the bloodstream, climb steep slopes and glide through neural tissues such as the spinal cord.
Microrobot research methodology
To demonstrate the walking of these MANiACs over the cortex of a rat and the spinal cord of a live mouse, a small crowd of nickel nanorods was loaded into a syringe with a mixture of alginate and a permanent magnet. Magnetically aligned, these robots were able to deliver micromolecules in up to six different locations, from different types of tissues, with great precision.
This use of microrobots to carry drug payloads to specific regions with sensitive tissues was the general objective of the research. Central nervous system (CNS) tissues were chosen because of their delicate structure and specialized functions for certain regions.
In this sense, the smoothness of the alginate gel prevents injuries that could occur in friction with the CNS tissues during the locomotion of the microrobots. The technology’s role can be useful in a variety of clinical and pre-clinical applications, such as drug delivery, neural stimulation, and support for imaging diagnostics.