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Going Deeper

Microrobots guided to targets inside the body using endoscopy and magnetism

03 June 2021

Going Deeper

Trying to get treatments to a precise location in the body is a bit like navigating an intricate maze of tunnels, with a blindfold and no map. Microrobots are miniature devices developed to cruise through the body and deliver drugs to specific hard-to-reach places in the body, but covering much distance is a real challenge. A new approach uses endoscopy – the common technique that slips a camera tube down the throat and into the body – to deposit the bots with a head start, and then uses magnetic forces to take them the rest of the way. The microrobots (left, from the outside) contain magnetic particles (right, blue) and stem cells (pink). After the microrobots are inserted, researchers view their motion by ultrasound, steering the flexible shapes accurately through the body’s tiny crevices. This combined approach could light the way for custom treatments to be directed to precise targets.

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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