WASHINGTON, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Engineers designed tiny magnetic robots that can push their way out of the bloodstream to bring drug into a tumor or a disease site.
The study published on Friday in the journal Science Advances reported the bacterial propulsion-inspired robots that help overcome the lining of the blood vessel, one major obstacle to delivering drug nanoparticles.
Engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) designed the robot, similar in size to a single cell. It consists of a tiny helix that resembles the flagella by which many bacteria used to propel themselves.
Those robots are 3D-printed and then coated with nickel to make them magnetic, according to the study.
The researchers created a microfluidic system that mimics the blood vessels surrounding tumors. The channel is between 50 and 200 microns wide, and lined with a gel that has holes to simulate the broken blood vessels near tumors.
They applied magnetic fields to the robot, making the helix rotate and swim through the channel, pushing 200-nanometer polymer particles into the model tissue. Those particles penetrated twice as far into the tissue as particles delivered without the aid of the magnetic robot.