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Magnet-guided microbots deliver cells where they're needed

28 June 2019

Express Delivery

It’s no good having a chef to make delicious pizzas, but no waiters or delivery people to bring them to hungry customers. Likewise, exciting new stem-cell treatments, that promise to boost recovery with renewed growth from starter cells that can develop into any number of other forms, are only useful if the stem cells can be transported to where they’re needed. A new study has developed magnet-controlled microbots to help overcome this limitation. The tiny structures provide a scaffold for cells like neurons (brain cells, orange, right) and oligodendrocytes (support cells in the brain, stained green, left) to grow, and can then be guided through the body with external magnets. Initial tests have shown that the parcels can be precisely delivered, raising hopes that one day this system could improve treatments, especially for Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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