Researchers Develop Micro-robots For Painless Chemotherapy Treatment Of Cancer Patients

One of the most effective methods of cancer treatment is chemotherapy, but it has serious side effects on the human body. In a bid to reduce the intensity of these side effects, scientists are looking at ways to bring the drugs directly to the cancer cells so that people do not have to suffer the serious side effects of the chemotherapy treatment.

In a latest study, researchers developed fish-shaped micro-robots, which are guided with magnets directly to the cancer cells and when they approach the cancer cells, a pH change makes them open their mouth and release the chemotherapy material.

Earlier, scientists had made microscale or smaller than 100 µm, which could work around tiny objects, but couldn't change their shapes to do difficult tasks like releasing drugs. Other scientists had developed 4D-printed objects but even their movements could not be controlled. Then, in order to develop more biomedical applications for these devices, researchers developed shape-morphing micro-robots, which could be guided by magnets to specific areas in the body to deliver treatments. As the tumors are present in an acidic environment, the scientists made the robots change shape in an atmosphere of lowered pH.

As a next step, researchers developed 4-D printed micro-robots in different shapes using pH-responsive hydrogel. The printing density was adjusted at different shapes of the micro-robots to include pH-responsive shape morphing. Then, the micro-robots were made magnetic by placing them in a mix of iron oxide nanoparticles.

The researchers showcased the different capabilities of the micro-robots in several tests. The micro-robot could be moved through blood vessels to come across cancer cells in a specific region. When the pH of the surrounding solution was brought down, the fish opened its mouth to release the chemotherapy drug, which would kill the nearby cancer cells. Researchers added that more study needs to done before the micro-robots can be commercially available to remove the side-effects of chemotherapy.

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