Novel Robot Design to Enhance Drug Delivery in Humans

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Researchers at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) developed a nano soft robot to deliver heavy drugs in human body by adapting to adverse environments

Several research organizations are working on developing ‘milli-robots’ for efficient drug delivery in treatment of various disorders. New study uncovered design of caterpillar-like robot, which has potential to advance drug delivery technologies. This new robot has ‘multi-legs’ that significantly reduce friction and enable ease of movement within mucus and blood. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications in September 2018.

The robotic design features hundreds of legs, which are less than 1mm in length and look like short tiny hairs. The design was inspired by studies based on hundreds of ground animals and in particular studies of the ratio between leg-length and the amount of space between the legs. The robot is operated using magnetic manipulator and can move in propulsed and inverted patterns using its front feet to push forwards and standing up alternately on its left and right feet as it advances. Experimental results reported that robot can carry 100 times its own weight, which is the equivalent of a human being able to lift a 26-seater bus.

“The amazingly strong carrying capability, efficient locomotion and good obstacle-crossing ability make this milli-robot extremely suitable for applications in a harsh environment, for example delivering a drug to a designated spot through the digestive system, or carrying out medical inspection,” said Yajing, research involved in study. Furthermore, the team is working on developing and refining the robot and looking for biodegradable materials, new shapes and extra features that can be added.

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Cynthia Carrier is a graduate of Texas A&M, where she played volleyball and annoyed a lot of professors. Now as Plains Gazette's entertainment and Lifestyle Editor, she enjoys writing about delicious BBQ, outrageous style trends and all things Texas.