Health

Miniature ‘origami robots’ that can flip, spin and SWIM could dispense drugs around the body

Millirobot origami with rotating propulsion.  The finger-sized machine is inspired by the Japanese paper-folding art of origami and can be controlled using magnets
Written by admin_3fxxacau

It may sound like the plot of “Fantastic Voyage,” but miniature robots that can travel around the human body and dispense medicine may soon become a reality.

Stanford University researchers have developed a ‘millirobot’ that can roll, flip, turn and even swim to get into tight spaces.

The finger-sized machine is inspired by the Japanese paper-folding art of origami and can be controlled using magnets – carrying drug treatments directly to a tumour, blood clot, infection or sore spot.

The millirobot could revolutionize medicine, researchers say, by replacing pills or intravenous injections that can cause unwanted side effects.

In the 1966 sci-fi classic Fantastic Voyage, a submarine and its crew are shrunk and injected into a dying patient, where they venture through his veins in his brain and destroy a blockage using laser guns .

Millirobot origami with rotating propulsion. The finger-sized machine is inspired by the Japanese paper-folding art of origami and can be controlled using magnets

In the 1966 sci-fi classic Fantastic Voyage, a submarine and its crew are shrunk and injected into a dying patient, where they venture through his veins in his brain and destroy a blockage using laser guns .

In the 1966 sci-fi classic Fantastic Voyage, a submarine and its crew are shrunk and injected into a dying patient, where they venture through his veins in his brain and destroy a blockage using laser guns .

The new millirobot measures less than a third of an inch wide (7.8 mm) and is equipped with a magnetic plate

The new millirobot measures less than a third of an inch wide (7.8 mm) and is equipped with a magnetic plate

The new millirobot measures less than a third of an inch wide (7.8 mm) and is equipped with a magnetic plate.

He is able to move quickly over the smooth, uneven surfaces of an organ and swim through bodily fluids, propelling himself wirelessly while carrying liquid medicine.

Unlike swallowed tablets or injected liquids, it retains the drug until “it hits the target and then releases high-concentration drug,” according to Renee Zhao, a mechanical engineer at Stanford University.

“This is how our robot manages to deliver targeted drugs,” she said.

The revolutionary design goes beyond most origami-based robots, which only use the ability to bend to control how they transform and move.

It also takes advantage of the folding motion to perform certain actions such as extracting medicine – similar to an accordion expelling air.

Dr. Zhao and his team also examined how the rigidity of the robot’s unfolded form lends itself to propulsion in the environment.

This allowed the US team to get the most out of the materials without adding bulk.

The more functionality gained from a single structure, the less invasive the procedure, Dr. Zhao explained.

Another unique aspect of the design is the combination of certain geometric features – including a long hole in the center and angled slits on the sides – to reduce water resistance and increase efficiency.

Dr. Zhao said, “This design induces negative pressure in the robot for fast swimming and at the same time provides suction for picking up and carrying cargo.

“We take full advantage of the geometric characteristics of this small robot and explore this unique structure for different applications and for different functions.”

The millirobot can swim through bodily fluids, holding the drug until it hits the target, then releasing high-concentration drug

The millirobot can swim through bodily fluids, holding the drug until it hits the target, then releasing high-concentration drug

The new millirobot is able to move quickly on smooth and uneven surfaces of an organ, according to mechanical engineer Renee Zhao of Stanford University

The new millirobot is able to move quickly on smooth and uneven surfaces of an organ, according to mechanical engineer Renee Zhao of Stanford University

Dr. Zhao is working on several different millirobot designs, including a magnetic crawling robot that can force its way through a stomach.

This robot is also powered by magnetic fields, enabling continuous motion and allowing it to change direction in an instant.

Methods of locomotion are self-selected based on the obstacles it must overcome in the body – ranging from organs to torrents of fluid.

By simply changing the strength and orientation of the magnetic field, the robot can travel ten times its length in a single jump, according to Dr Zhao.

The new swimming robot, the first of its kind, is among the most advanced robots.

The robot is currently undergoing tests prior to animal experiments. If successful, human clinical trials will follow.

The

The “millirobot” can roll, flip, turn and even swim to get into tight spaces.

Dr. Zhao also plans to continue to scale down his robots, in order to pursue microscale biomedical research.

It is hoped that his robots will eventually carry instruments or cameras into the body as well as drugs, and could change the way doctors examine patients.

“We started looking at how it all works in parallel,” she said.

“This is a very unique point of this work, and it also has broad potential for application in the biomedical field.”

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation and the American Heart Association, was published in Nature Communications.

Tiny robots could be sent on a journey into human brains by a California startup

Miniature robots could be sent deep within the human brain to treat disorders inaccessible by other methods, according to a California-based start-up.

Bionaut Labs plans to conduct its first human clinical trials in two years, for its tiny injectable robots, which can be carefully guided into the brain using magnets.

In collaboration with the prestigious German Max Planck research institutes, they opted for magnets to propel the robot because it does not harm the human body.

Magnetic coils placed outside the patient’s skull are linked to a computer that can remotely and gently maneuver the micro-robot into the affected part of the brain.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the firm clearance for clinical trials involving the treatment of Dandy-Walker syndrome, as well as malignant gliomas – cancerous brain tumors often considered inoperable.

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