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Researchers Deliver Stem Cells by Using Magnetically Actuated Microrobots

Mar, 2021

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Researchers, in affiliation with several institutions in South Korea and one in Switzerland, discovered this method of delivering stem cells.

The research team describes about how they created the tiny bots and how well they worked when tested in the paper published in the journal Science Robotics. It is known from previous studies that drugs can be delivered to a target in a living human by injecting tiny robots into the bloodstream then directing them to a target using external magnets. Researchers of this study have demonstrated that same is possible for stem cell.

Stem cells are used for the treatment of various human conditions or for repair of damaged tissues. It can be delivered to the targeted area only through injection. However, in some cases, injection might not be a good option to deliver the stem cell, as it cannot reach the hard-to-reach areas and might result in tissue damage. Moreover, it has a low stem cell survival rate. As a solution to this problem, researchers developed two robot shapes using 3-D laser lithography. A sphere and a helix robot was made with porous surfaces to allow stem cells to adhere to them. The researchers then used a magnetic field to move the robots through various scenarios. To direct the spherical robots, the team used a rotating motion with the magnet.

Using their system, the researchers report directing microrobots to an empty cavity in a live mouse. They also moved them through an isolated blood vessel, a cell culture, and a slice of rat brain. In most instances, the tiny bots carried stem cells, but the researchers also showed they could carry cancer cells as well—by delivering them to an organ on a chip.

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