Nanorrobots move inside the body as fish banks

2021/03/25 Elhuyar Zientzia Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

PET-CT images taken at 0, 25 and 45 minutes of immersion of nanorrobots in ureas. Ed. Pedro Ramos, Cristina Simó / IBEC, UAB

Although they are still in the research phase, nanorrobots are expected to be very useful in medicine. They are tiny machines that contain nanometer sized components that can be designed to move autonomously within an organism. However, for any medical application it is essential that nanorrobots have a coordinated movement and that doctors know well how they move within an organism. Researchers at CIC bi<unk> GUNE have monitored for the first time the behavior of a group of nanorrobots within live mice and have seen them move like fish nets. That is, they have shown that they are effective in moving in a coordinated way.

Among the most promising nanorobot systems are self-propelled catalytic enzymes. It is being investigated in applications as diverse as the identification and location of tumor cells, the release of drugs in certain corners of the body, support for cells in inflammatory responses... Millions of nanorrobots are needed to treat specific pathologies. Therefore, in addition to understanding their collective behavior, it is essential to continue functioning within a living organism.

The research has refined nanorobots' in vivo monitoring methodology by positron emission tomography (PET). This technique is non-invasive and highly sensitive and is used in the clinical environment. Nanorrobots have been introduced into the mouse through veins and into the bladder. In this case, nanorrobots had an enzyme called urease, capable of using the urine urea of mice as fuel. Thus, they could easily move around the environment. However, the authors say that different enzymes can be introduced in the engines of nanorrobots: nanorrobots could be made to measure, depending on the internal objective of the organism, adapting to the available fuel in which the nanodevice will move.

The research involved CIC bi<unk> GUNE and various Catalan research groups, including the Catalan Institute of Bioengineering. The study was published in the journal Science Robotics.

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