May 28, 2017

Scientists hope microbots will revolutionize medicine

There are three types of medical micromotors scientists hope can carry out these functions: chemical, physical, and biohybrid.

How they're different:

  • Chemical micromotors react to the liquids around them by using platinum or silver as a catalyst.
  • Physical micromotors manifest as a magnetic helix that act like cargo mules for the body and could perform biopsies or microsurgeries.
  • Biohybrid micromotors are bacteria-driven — they follow bacteria and can be controlled through an external force (think: magnetism) to control and move things around in the body.

Why it matters: "With a coordinated push, microbots could usher in an era of non-invasive therapies within a decade," said Mariana Medina-Sánchez and Oliver G. Schmidt, the researchers behind the essay. Furthermore, the emergence of medical micromotors could revolutionize the types of medicines able to be administered throughout the body, as well as give surgical access to people in more rural areas.

The challenges:

  • Most are currently fueled by toxic chemicals like hydrogen peroxide.
  • Navigating the human body - this is more difficult than making it around a Petri dish.
  • Safety - researchers will have to demonstrate microbots can be removed or breakdown in the body.

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In photos: India welcomes president with massive "Namaste Trump" rally

First Lady Melania Trump, President Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend the "Namaste Trump" rally at Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, on Monday. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

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The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, World Health Organization officials expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,619 people and infected almost 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally on Saturday in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

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