Small shape-altering microrobots can localize cancer cells. With magnets?

We are on the verge of a revolution in nanotechnology.

Researchers have created a new way to move chemotherapy drugs to the site of cancer cells with microbes, according to a recent study published in the journal ACS Nano.

This can significantly improve the treatment of cancer, as it allows the direct injection of chemotherapeutics into cancer cells.

The small microrobots were directed at the cancer cells by magnets

Today, most patients in chemotherapy receive cancer-killing drugs either orally or intravenously. But both methods come with unwanted side effects. The new method can reduce them and also give new applications to 3D printed robotic animals. Such small creatures target their target (in this case, cancer cells) through magnets and release the drug’s payload once they enter the acidic environment immediately around the tumor. Composed of 3D printed hydrogel in the form of various animals (including butterfly, crab and fish), small robotic creatures have gaps inside where engineers can fill particles.

For this endeavor, the research team changed the density of the seal in individual areas, such as the limbs of the nails of the cancer or the mouth of the fish, allowing them to open or close when the acidity of the environment rises above the threshold. Once completed, the microbots were lowered into a solution containing oxide nanoparticles to make the little creatures magnetic and allow magnetic targeting once inside the body. Once the small creatures are directed all the way to the goal, where rapid changes in pH levels will cause the release of the payload housed inside.

An army of small service robots

While working in the laboratory, the researchers used magnets to target a fish-shaped microbot through structures designed to simulate blood vessels in the direction of grouped cancer cells. The scientists made this part of the solution a little more acidic, which caused the microrobot fish to open its mouth and vomit the drugs. This kills cancer cells. In additional tests, cancer-shaped microbes were designed to contain the drug’s nanoparticles in their nails. When they are aimed at the target, the nails release the drug. And this idea can be scaled for swarms of microrobots capable of rolling, walking, swimming, spinning, or even crawling and spinning through human bodies to deliver drugs directly to target areas.

But the latest design of crab and fish-shaped bots is particularly impressive, as they can automatically release drugs at the specific site needed for treatment. Naturally, microbes will not enter the market for public use and personal injections in the next few months. The research team said that robots need to be smaller, and we also need a way to depict and trace them as they travel through our bodies. We don’t want them to be in the wrong place, with the wrong medicine, but once it matures, this technology can effectively revolutionize cancer treatment and perhaps even lead to other, even more advanced applications. Imagine speculating widely an army of small robotic creatures passing through your veins while running, delivering only a little extra chemical fuel or electric boost needed to make your muscles respond faster, improving the athletic performance of healthy people, or improving coordination and those who are not in the best of health.

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