DEC 05, 2015 8:57 AM PST

Microscopic Devices Could Deliver Drugs Inside the Body

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet
Scientists have invented microscopic swimming devices that work on the scientists' behalf without being manually guided. These tiny spherical bead-like devices can instead by guided by physical structures while swimming inside fluids. They are similar in size to cells and open many possibilities in multiple fields. In the medical field, which the researchers are currently focusing on, they could potentially deliver drugs to targeted locations inside the body and perform micro-surgery on targeted cells.
 
Scientists have invented microscopic swimming devices that have the potential to delivery drugs inside the body

Researchers could not previously figure out how to guide microscopic devices that actively convert chemical energy into mechanical motion. Prior to this method, researchers focused on external magnetic fields to steer the devices. However, this required their constant observation because the device had to be manually controlled.

Engineers at the University of Sheffield prompted the motion of the motors by giving the devices a catalytic coating on one side. They then triggered the coating by adding fuel molecules. The major obstacle was guiding the micro-motor against the impact of Brownian rotation, which randomizes the orientation of a molecule due to collision with other molecules. They overcame this problem by using hydrodynamic effects to actively contain the Brownian rotation in a rotational well. This caused the device to move independently on a predetermined route, using natural physical structures as a guide.

"We are now working on applications for using these devices in the body,” biochemical engineer Stephen Ebbens said. “In the shorter term, [we’re] focusing on using [the devices] for medical diagnosis.” 

These devices also have the potential to be used in the environmental field. For instance, they could locate indicators of contamination in environmental samples. They could additionally deliver neutralizing chemicals to areas affected by oil spills, by using crevices in rocks as the structural guide.

The specific chemicals and methods necessary to guide the structures can be found in the study, which was publicly published on December 2 in Nature Communications.

Source: Press Release via The University of Sheffield, Journal Article via Nature Communications
 
About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
You May Also Like
AUG 25, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
An Atomic-Level Look at Infectious Proteins
AUG 25, 2021
An Atomic-Level Look at Infectious Proteins
Scientists have used a tool called cryo-electron microscopy to get an unprecedented and detailed look at infectious, mis ...
AUG 25, 2021
Cardiology
Don't Underestimate the Importance of the Spleen
AUG 25, 2021
Don't Underestimate the Importance of the Spleen
The spleen is one of the organs we can live without, but researchers are increasingly recognizing its importance. We kno ...
AUG 29, 2021
Cancer
Blood Test over 90% Accurate in Detecting Lung Cancer
AUG 29, 2021
Blood Test over 90% Accurate in Detecting Lung Cancer
An AI-powered blood test was able to correctly detect the presence of lung cancer over 90% of the time in patient sample ...
SEP 05, 2021
Microbiology
Gut Bacteria May Influence Infant Brain Development
SEP 05, 2021
Gut Bacteria May Influence Infant Brain Development
Our health is closely connected to the community of microbes we carry in our gut. For example, these microbes have a pow ...
SEP 06, 2021
Microbiology
Imbokodo Trial Shows HIV Vaccine Candidate Isn't Effective Enough
SEP 06, 2021
Imbokodo Trial Shows HIV Vaccine Candidate Isn't Effective Enough
HIV vaccines have remained elusive in part because the virus has a powerful ability to mutate, and there are so many str ...
SEP 08, 2021
Earth & The Environment
The Invasive Species Coming for your Wine!
SEP 08, 2021
The Invasive Species Coming for your Wine!
Invasive species are a problem throughout the world. Globalization means that we are continuously accidentally introduci ...
Loading Comments...