Microbots – Germ-Inspired Robots Delivering Drugs to Our Bodies

It has been known that microbots have been making great strides in recent years as there are developments that do range from creating tiny experimental robots that will swim inside your body’s bloodstream to deliver drugs, and there are also creations that do resemble origami that are designed to be swallowed. Scientists have been going about it for years as they are faced with numerous challenges to perfect this type of technology for the benefit of everyone. One of the trickier problems they have to face is figuring out how to propel these tiny microscopic robots as they live in a world so miniscule that regular-sized propellers aren’t actually that efficient.

Microbots - Germ-Inspired Robots Delivering Drugs to Our Bodies

Scientists Have Been Going About Developments for Microbots for Years

Hen-Wei Huang and Bradley Nelson at ETHZ, and Selman Sakar at EPFL, are developing and testing an array of configurations for microbots to move about in a person’s bloodstream. They are trying to create a solution that can be produced quickly and in quantity with the use of a new manufacturing technique. Their efforts have led them to a microscopic robot that can be controlled with the use of an electromagnetic field. Then, when heated, it can alter its shape.

These robots are flexible, motorless, and soft, and these properties exist thanks to the use of biocompatible hydrogel, as well as with magnetic nanoparticles. The latter of which will act as mechanical reinforcers and will react to electromagnetic fields. This will allow the microbot to move about, even when inside a person’s body.

As their starting point, the scientists chose to use the micro-organism Trypanosoma brucei. This is a protozoa that moves by a whip-like appendage that is called a flagellum. It will whisk it about to create movement. When carried about by the bite of the infamous Tsetse fly, this micro-organism will use its flagellum to move about into the bloodstream of its host. Once inside the host, it will then hide the whip-like appendage in what the team of researchers call it as a survival mechanism.

Sakar says the following pertaining to the technology revolving around the microbots: “We show that both a bacterium’s body and its flagellum play an important role in its movement. Our new production method lets us test an array of shapes and combinations to obtain the best motion capability for a given task. Our research also provides valuable insight into how bacteria move inside the human body and adapt to changes in their microenvironment.”


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