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Drug-carrying platelets engineered to propel themselves by way of biofluids


Pseudocolored microscopy picture of quite a few platelet microrobots (purple) hooked up to a human breast most cancers cell (purple). Credit score: Tang et al., Sci. Robotic. 5, eaba6137 (2020)

A crew of researchers from the College of California San Diego and the College of Science and Know-how Beijing has developed a option to engineer platelets to propel themselves by way of biofluids as a method of delivering medication to focused components of the physique. Of their paper printed within the journal Science Robotics, the group outlines their methodology and the way properly it labored when examined within the lab. In the identical subject, Jinjun Shi with Brigham and Ladies’s Hospital has printed a Focus piece outlining ongoing analysis into the event of pure drug supply programs and the tactic used on this new effort.

Medical scientists have been working with roboticists over the previous a number of years to find out if it may be doable to launch tiny robots into the to hold medication to particular components of the physique, comparable to an organ with a bacterial an infection or a cancerous tumor. Most such efforts have concerned injecting tiny capsules with metallic coatings that may be managed utilizing an exterior magnet. However as Shi notes, such efforts are usually fairly inefficient. Due to that, researchers have began to take a look at the potential of engineering pure cells within the physique to carry out as programmed robots. On this new effort, they’ve devised a option to permit platelets to propel themselves by way of biofluids. Platelets, Shi additionally notes, had been a great candidate as a result of they’re naturally in a position to carry materials round within the physique.

Underneath regular situations, platelets will not be in a position to transfer on their very own; they’re transported by way of the blood to completely different components of the . To present them a method of propulsion, the researchers asymmetrically coated them with an enzyme known as urease—when it’s uncovered to urea, a response happens that leads to a pressure that can be utilized to propel the platelet. By coating the platelets asymmetrically, the crew ensured that they had been pushed in only one path. The researchers famous that the pace of the platelet motion may very well be managed by the focus of the urease—and that the appliance of urease didn’t hurt the floor or its protein profile.

Drug carrying platelets engineered to propel themselves through biofluids
Pseudocolored microscopy picture of a platelet microrobot (inexperienced) binding to E. coli (purple). Credit score: Tang et al., Sci. Robotic. 5, eaba6137 (2020)

Video of microrobot propulsion in urea-concentrated fluid. Credit score: Tang et al., Sci. Robotic. 5, eaba6137 (2020)

Video displaying restricted movement of regular platelets in numerous urea-concentrated biofluids. Credit score: Tang et al., Sci. Robotic. 5, eaba6137 (2020)

Drug carrying platelets engineered to propel themselves through biofluids
Diagram of a possible biomedical software. When the microrobots are immediately administered into the bladder the place urea ranges are usually excessive, they’ll autonomously and quickly carry medication to focus on organic threats (e.g., tumor cells and micro organism) that platelet cells can particularly acknowledge. Credit score: Shi, Sci. Robotic. 5, eabc6582 (2020)

Scientists visualize competition between healthy, dysfunctional platelets


Extra info:
Songsong Tang et al. Enzyme-powered Janus platelet cell robots for energetic and focused drug supply, Science Robotics (2020). DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aba6137

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