Delivering drugs directly to where they’re needed in the body is a major aim of pharmaceutical development, but it’s a challenging order. Dense tissue is very difficult to move things through. But researchers working in the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MP-IS) in Germany and an international team of collaborators, have created propeller-shaped nanorobots that can move through dense tissue like that in the eye.
“For the coating, we look to nature for inspiration,” said the first author of the study Zhiguang Wu. “In the second step, we applied a liquid layer found on the carnivorous pitcher plant, which has a slippery surface on the peristome to catch insects. It is like the Teflon coating of a frying pan. This slippery coating is crucial for the efficient propulsion of our robots inside the eye, as it minimizes the adhesion between the biological protein network in the vitreous and the surface of our nanorobots.”
“The principle of the propulsion of the nanorobots, their small size, as well as the slippery coating, will be useful, not only in the eye, but for the penetration of a variety of tissues in the human body,” added corresponding author Tian Qiu, a lab group leader at the MPI-IS.