When we think of robots we usually imagine those that are human-sized or we lean towards unmanned vehicles such as drones. But the field of nanotechnology is the one that lately has given us the most surprises. An example of this is the achievement of a team of scientists from the University of Tel Aviv (Israel) who have developed micro-robots capable of scanning individual cells to know if they are healthy or not.
These tiny “cell detectives” are the size of a cell and are also capable of transporting those that have problems or should not be in a certain area, using electricity or magnetism for further genetic analysis. This makes these micro-robots a new tool with the potential to diagnose diseases or administer medication to patients. a chosen location.
According to the study, published in Advanced Science, the authors, led by Gilad Yossifon, were inspired by the cells themselves and by different organisms to develop these “inspectors of our body.” “The development of the micro-robot’s ability to move autonomously was inspired by biological micro-swimmers such as bacteria and spermatozoa – Yossifon explains in a statement -. This is an innovative area of research that is developing rapidly, with a wide variety of uses in fields such as medicine and the environment and as a research tool“.
The tiny robots could, for example, be used to select cancer cells and transport them for biological sampling and subsequent medical diagnosis. In tests, the researchers were able to use the robots to distinguish between healthy or dying cells and capture individual blood and cancer cells inside a bacterium.
“This achievement significantly advances technology in two main aspects: hybrid propulsion and navigation by electrical and magnetic mechanisms that are very different – adds Yossifon -. In addition, the microrobot has an enhanced ability to identify and capture a single cell, without the need for labeling, for local testing or recovery and delivery to an external instrument.”
The future objective is to develop micro-robots that are capable of working inside the body with the mission, for example, of being used as “effective drug carriers that can be precisely guided to the target,” they note in the study.