Scientists develop microrobots for targeted drug delivery

Jan. 21, 2019

A team of scientists has created a type of microrobot that can swim through the body to deliver treatments to diseased tissue. 

In a recently released article published in Science Advances, the researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Bradley Nelson at ETH Zurich in Switzerland described how they developed the tiny, smart robots. 

Drawing inspiration from bacteria, the scientists designed the microswimmers using hydrogel nanocomposits that contain magnetic particles that can guide the robots with a magnetic controller. The design is also flexible so that the robots can be maneuvered in a variety of environments and fluids. 

 "Our robots have a special composition and structure that allow them to adapt to the characteristics of the fluid they are moving through. For instance, if they encounter a change in viscosity or osmotic concentration, they modify their shape to maintain their speed and maneuverability without losing control of the direction of motion," the team’s lead scientist, Selmen Sakar, explained. 

The scientists say that the microbots will not only allow for more effective drug delivery, they can also be manufactured at a low cost. The team is now working on continuing to improve the robots’ performance. 

Read the full press release.