Delivering Drugs And Removing Toxins With 3-D Printed Micro-Robots

J. Warner, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Nanotechnology and 3-D printing are two fields that have huge potential in general, but manipulating this technology and using it in biology also has tremendous and exciting prospects. In a promising prototype, scientists have created micro-robots shaped like fish which are thinner than a human hair, and can be used to remove toxins, sense environments or deliver drugs to specific tissue. 

These tiny fish were formed using a high resolution 3-D printing technology directed with UV light, and are essentially aquatic themed sensing, delivery packages. Platinum particles that react with hydrogen peroxide push the fish forward, and iron oxide at the head of the fish can be steered by magnets; both enabling control of where they 'swim' off to. And there you have it - a simple, tiny machine that can be customised for various medical tasks. 

In a test of concept, researchers attached polydiacetylene (PDA) nanoparticles to the body, which binds with certain toxins and fluoresces in the red spectrum. When these fish entered an environment containing these toxins, they did indeed fluoresce and neutralised the compounds. 

 

PDA nanoparticles in the microfish bodies bind with toxins, the microfish turn fluorescent red (Credit: W. Zhu and J. Li, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering)

 

“With our 3D printing technology, we are not limited to just fish shapes. We can rapidly build microrobots inspired by other biological organisms such as birds”

 

 

 

 

While the fishy shape may be fun and help streamline movement, it's likely in the future the shape could vary. 

Read more at Gizmodo