Using tiny robots to deliver drugs is promising pathway when it comes to limiting side effects and increasing effectiveness, and some take a more theatrical approach than others. Scientists at Purdue University have come to the party with a back-flipping microbot that can tumble its way through the colon to release its payload when desired, all while being controlled externally by a magnetic field.
Minuscule robots that can be loaded up with therapeutics, sent to a precise location in the body and then release medication as needed could mean big things for the treatment of many diseases, and there’s no shortage of inventive solutions on the horizon. We’ve previously looked at corkscrew-inspired robots that skewer cancer cells to drop drugs inside, others that can crawl, roll and jump, and ones that creep along like a caterpillar.
Back in 2018, we looked at a magnetic microbot from Purdue University that moved via a tumbling motion, which enabled it to overcome uneven terrain and even take on steep inclines, demonstrated in dry air and silicone oil. The same research group has continued to improve the technology, and has now demonstrated its capabilities in biological tissue for the first time.
The researchers chose the colon for their first in vivo experiments, because of the easy access and also because its messy nature poses a unique challenge.