The scientists at ETH are introducing small, sophisticated biological and technological machines allowing non-invasive selective therapies. Their products comprise genetically altered cells that can be activated through brain waves and swarms of micro-robots that enhance the exceedingly correct application of drugs.
According to Nelson, he wanted a load of small robots with maneuver and drugged them to the accurate location in the human body where actual treatment is required. Alternatively, the small creatures could also be placed with instruments, enabling operations to be functioned without any surgical intervention. The benefits compared with traditional treatments with drugs are sure – much more targeted therapy and lesser side effects.
Although, this experiment seems like a science fiction, but the team of Nelson is actually trying to make it a reality. In their vivo experiment, they were able to precisely guide a swarm of 80,000 micro robots within a range to illustrate the delivery of a model drug to the targeted locations. Nonetheless, the scientists still have to rectify a list of questions before they can address the very first applications in humans. These questions emphasize on design and materials. “When creating robots like this, we cannot depend on our intuition as on a small scale, substances often act differently that we are used to,” says Nelson.
Special 3-dimensional printers have enhanced the assortment of substances utilized in micro robot design, moving beyond semiconductor metals to comprise polymers. As a result, Nelson’s groups in association with Professor Christofer Hierold’s group was able to produce a robot from a biocompatible biopolymer, which gets dissolves in the body after accomplishing its task.
In this study, the micro robots can switch their shape from one form to another depending on the environmental conditions. For this reason, Nelson has termed them as ‘origami robots.’ The transformation in their shape can be augmented in the pH of the body fluids, at a varying temperature level or a light pulse. The plasticity of the robot is based on a multilayer structure with distinct hydrogels. Since the biopolymers contract or expand distinctly under external pressure, the robot can alter their shape.
To the surprise, Nelson is not just the ETH researcher who is primarily rethinking medicine. There is also another leading name, Martin Fussenegger, lecturer of Bioengineering and Biotechnology, is considering a small revolution in medical therapy. He considers this at ‘outrageous’ that we just insert drugs into our bodies, typically late in the duration of illness and then expects the desired results.
According to Fussenger, “the future is expected to bring electricity for lighting the lamp and hence the production of protein – could also emerge from a smartphone or a watch.” This would be a passage to the absolutely novel opportunities for the doctor patient relationship – a doctor who is presently moving to Europe by triggering the release of the designer cells over the internet. It could be a great thing not only for doctors but even for the patients. At least, it is also one of the visions of medicine that seems in sync with the era of Internet of Things.