Engineers have developed a new micro-motor robot that can identify, trap, and transport individual cells. The tiny machine, which ranges from 5 to 27 micrometers across, can be controlled by both electric and magnetic fields. It is made from a polystyrene sphere coated with chromium, nickel, and gold. The micro-robot’s ability to move autonomously was inspired by biological micro-swimmers such as bacteria and sperm cells.
The micro-motor robot has an impressive list of capabilities. It can move from cell to cell, identify different types of cells, recognize whether cells are healthy or dying, transport cells, and apply drugs or a specific gene to a cell. The researchers used the bot to capture single blood cells, single cancer cells, and a single bacterium. While it has not yet been tested inside the human body, the machine could potentially be deployed there.
The micro-motor robot natively senses cell status through electrical signals, which could potentially help with certain cancer treatments by identifying cells that are killing themselves inside the body. The robot has an improved ability to identify and capture a single cell, without the need for tagging, for local testing or retrieval and transport to an external instrument.
The micro-motor robot has a lot of potential in single-cell analysis, where scientists study the behavior and properties of cells in isolation. It could also be used in drug delivery or in cleaning up pollutants in the environment. The new invention might also be helpful in liquid biopsies, where bodily fluids need to be sampled and analyzed. The researchers aim to develop micro-robots that can work inside the body, for example, as effective drug carriers that can be precisely guided to the target. This is an innovative area of research that is developing rapidly and has a wide variety of uses.
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