JAN 04, 2022 4:00 PM PST

Micro-robots that can deliver drugs to treat brain cancer

WRITTEN BY: J. Bryce Ortiz

Scientists have developed tiny, microscopic robots with the capability to swim through the bloodstream, enter the brain, and deliver therapeutic payloads to brain tumors. Two biotech companies, Bionaut Labs and Candel Therapeutics, recently announced their joint venture to deliver novel drugs to the brain to fight brain cancers. Their plan is to combine Candel’s oncolytic viral drug and Bionaut’s remote controlled microrobots in order to effectively target hard-to-reach brain tumors.

Current estimates show that close to 700,000 individuals in the United States are living with a brain tumor and close to 85,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumor every year. Brain tumors often have long-lasting and life-altering effects on a patient’s life. Current treatment relies on surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy to target and remove the brain tumor. However, radiation and chemotherapy can have many side effects that wreak havoc on the rest of the body. Because of this, delivering drugs directly to cancer cells can not only help destroy tumors but can remove many of these debilitating side effects. Microrobots are designed to navigate through the body and deliver drugs directly to cancer cells. 

Microrobots are a kind of tiny machine that utilizes various forms of energy to actuate itself in a specific and controlled way. Bionaut Labs’ microrobots, called Bionauts, can be controlled with a magnetic controller that allows surgeons to move them safely through the body and directly to brain tumor targets. Once the Bionaut reaches the brain tumor, it will release its contents, which in this case, will be Candel’s novel adenovirus-based therapy called CAN-2409. According to Dr. Paul Peter Tak, CEO of Candel Therapeutics, CAN-2409 is, “Candel’s most advanced oncolytic viral immunotherapy candidate,” that, with the help of existing cancer drugs, can effectively kill targeted cancer cells. 

While Bionaut Labs and Candel’s joint venture has just begun, they hope to enter clinical trials to test their technology in the coming years. They are hopeful that their work will help patients with brain tumors, and other cancers, live longer and healthier lives. 


Sources: Bionaut LabsCandel TherapeuticsNational Brain Tumor SocietyDrug Discovery Trends

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Science and medical writer | Researcher | Interested in the intersection between translational science, drug development, and policy
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