The robots that could help treat cancer

Tiny robots could soon be delivering life-saving treatments to hard-to-reach parts of the body, according to a new study. 

Researchers have developed a swarm of tiny 'biohybrid' machines measuring a few millionths of a metre long - about the size of a red blood cell. 

During initial tests, the robots were guided magnetically to sites in the stomach of rats, where they killed cancerous tumours while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

The researchers hope the same technique could be used in humans to deliver drugs to remote areas.

Scroll down for video 

Researchers have developed a swarm of tiny 'biohybrid' machines measuring a few millionths of a metre long - about the size of a red blood cell

Researchers have developed a swarm of tiny 'biohybrid' machines measuring a few millionths of a metre long - about the size of a red blood cell

THE BIOHYBRID ROBOTS 

The team developed the micro-robots by coating a microscopic algae called Spirulina platensis with non-harmful, biocompatible magnetic particles.

The devices can smoothly swim in biological fluids - such as diluted blood, gastric juice, urine and even peanut oil.

They could be deployed one million strong - without sticking together, said the researchers.

The time taken for the robots to function and biodegrade within the body could be tailored by adjusting the thickness of their manufactured coating.

In lab tests the devices were found to release potent compounds from the algae core during degradation.

This selectively attacked cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

The robots were manufactured by an international team of researchers led by the the Chinese University of Hong Kong, by coating tiny algae with magnetic particles.

They could be tracked in tissue close to the skin's surface by imaging the algae's natural luminescence - and in hard-to-reach deeper tissue by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 

Dr Qi Zhou, one of the authors of the study, said the tiny remotely-operated robots could be used in a range of ways, including diagnosing illnesses, and delivering therapies to parts of the body that are otherwise difficult to treat. 

Dr Zhou added that the robots could also sense chemical changes linked to the onset of illness within parts of the body.

This makes them potentially useful as probes for remote diagnosis.

The team developed the micro-robots by coating a microscopic algae called Spirulina platensis with non-harmful, biocompatible magnetic particles.

The devices can smoothly swim in biological fluids - such as diluted blood, gastric juice, urine and even peanut

read more from dailymail.....

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

PREV Special site for Bronze Age burials is found in Loch Ness
NEXT Technology As FAANG stocks slide, famed tech investor said buy Facebook