A team of researchers from the United States created tiny robots made from human tracheal cells. In a laboratory experiment, these devices (called “anthrobots”) were able to stimulate the growth of damaged neurons. A study on the new technology was published in the scientific journal Advanced Science.
Multicellular robots range in size from the width of a human hair to the tip of a sharp pencil. Made to self-assemble, they have been shown to have a healing effect on other cells. According to researchers, the device is a starting point for the use of biobots (biological robots) derived from patients as new therapeutic tools for regeneration, healing and treatment of diseases.
The study is derived from previous research in which Scientists have created so-called “xenobots”, robots made from embryonic frog cells. These devices were able to move around, collect materials, record information, heal from injuries, and even replicate themselves on their own. At the time, scientists didn’t know whether these capabilities depended on being derived from an amphibian embryo or whether the biobots could be built from cells from other species.
In the new study, researchers found that robots can be created from adult human cells without any genetic modification. Additionally, research has demonstrated that they have some capabilities beyond what has been observed in xenobots. The researchers found that the anthrobots could also move in different ways over a surface of human neurons grown in a laboratory dish and stimulate new growth to fill gaps caused by damage to the neuronal cell layer.
“The cellular assemblies we build in the lab may have capabilities that go beyond what they do in the body,” said Michael Levin, a researcher at Tufts University and leader of the study. “It is fascinating and completely unexpected that normal tracheal cells from patients, without their DNA being modified, can move on their own and stimulate the growth of neurons in a damaged region.”, he stated. “Now we are looking at how the healing mechanism works and asking what else they can do,” he added.
The advantages of the new technique include the ability to build robots from the patient’s own cells to perform therapeutic work without the risk of triggering an immune rejection response or need immunosuppressants. They only last a few weeks before breaking down and therefore can be easily reabsorbed by the body after their task is complete.
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