Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart took another step closer to creating microbots for treating various diseases. At the moment, they have already successfully tested miniature robots that can safely move inside the eyeball. In addition, their dimensions are so small that they do not even damage the dense and viscous substance of the vitreous when “working”.
Miniature robots are 200 times thinner than a human hair and have a “drill” of inert material at one of their ends, and nanopropellers 500 nanometers wide at the other. The coating of the nanobots is “slippery and streamlined”, which allows them to move without damaging the surrounding tissues.
In addition to the main function of movement, the propellers already mentioned above are also a reservoir for therapeutic agents and are capable of delivering targeted (i.e. exactly where needed) drug delivery. And if we talk about such developments, which can be used in flowing liquids like blood, in this case, targeted delivery is associated with a number of difficulties. The first is the viscous consistency of the inner part of the eyeball and the dense molecular matrix through which the robot must pass. The second is that the chemical properties of biopolymers inside the eye do not allow the nanorobots to advance. But the third is a kind of “standard” for such machines: the robot must somehow be managed.
Experts overcame the last voiced limitation due to the addition of materials like iron, which react to the influence of a magnetic field. The other two helped solve the biomaterial derived from insectivorous plants.
“The idea of coverage, we saw at the very nature. Some plants of the sarratseni family have a very slippery surface in order to catch insects. It looks like a Teflon coating pan. We recreated this slippery coating and it is crucial for the efficient movement of our robots inside the eye, because it minimizes the adhesion between the biological protein network in the vitreous body and the surface of our nanorobots. ”
At the same time, the universal design of robots allows them to be used in other parts of the human body.
“We want to be able to use our robots as tools for minimally invasive treatment of all types of diseases, where there is a hard-to-reach area surrounded by dense tissue.”