Menu
Inspired by sperm, tiny robots could deliver drugs

Inspired by sperm, tiny robots could deliver drugs

These microscopic machines could bring cancer drugs to diseased cells

A steerable, microscopic robot dubbed MagnetoSperm could be used to help deliver targeted drugs in the body.

A steerable, microscopic robot dubbed MagnetoSperm could be used to help deliver targeted drugs in the body.

Minuscule robots of the future that swim around in your body delivering drugs have come a step closer to reality.

Meet MagnetoSperm. They're infinitesimal robots that squirm around just like sperm and reach parts of the body that are difficult to access.

Developed by researchers in the Netherlands and Egypt, MagnetoSperm robots navigate using weak oscillating magnetic fields.

With polymer bodies and cobalt-nickel heads, the robots are 322 micrometers long, about the size of a house dust mite, and have a shape similar to sperm cells.

The magnetic head allows the robot to align itself along weak magnetic fields, according to research published in Applied Physics Letters by scientists from the University of Twente in the Netherlands and German University in Cairo.

The magnetic fields have a strength of less than 5 milliTeslas, which is about the power of a refrigerator magnet.

When the robot aligns itself, it generates thrust along its flexible body, moving forward as it wriggles. It can move at speeds around 160 micrometers per second, and can be steered using the magnetic fields.

The robot could be driven around vessels ranging from arteries to capillaries, the researchers said.

"The applications of this micro-robot are diverse," Sarthak Misra, an associate professor of robotics and mechatronics at the University of Twente and one of the authors of the paper, wrote in an email. "These include targeted drug delivery, in vitro fertilization, cell sorting and cleaning of clogged arteries, among others."

MagnetoSperm isn't the only mini-robot that takes its design cues from sperm.

Last year, German researchers writing in Advanced Materials described a "biohybrid micro-robot" built by capturing bovine sperm cells in magnetic microtubes.

While the cells' own whip-like tails provided the propulsion, the metallic microtubes could be guided using magnetic fields, potentially allowing such miniature devices to guide sperm to eggs or drugs to specific sites.

The disadvantage to that approach is that the coupling between sperm and microtube happens randomly, the MagnetoSperm researchers said.

They plan to further shrink the MagnetoSperm bots by equipping them with nano-fibers that would serve as flagella. They are also working to synthesize drug payloads for the robots that could be released near diseased cells.

"This would allow us to achieve targeted therapy to mitigate the negative side effects of conventional chemotherapy," wrote Islam S.M. Khalil, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Material Science at German University in Cairo who co-authored the MagnetoSperm paper.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags robotics

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2015 and 2016 inductees - Darryl Swann, Dave Rosenberg, Gary Bigwood, Keith Watson, Mike Hill and Scott Green - to the inaugural Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed how the channel can collectively work together to benefit New Zealand, the Kiwi skills shortage and the future of the industry. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch
Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Show Comments