Shape-morphing microrobots deliver drugs to cancer cells

By: April Carson



Chemo is an effective therapy for a variety of malignancies, but the collateral damage can be severe. Directly targeting cancer cells with medications might assist reduce these distressing symptoms. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed fish-shaped microrobots that are guided with magnets to cancer cells, where a pH change activates them to open their mouths and release their chemotherapy payload in a proof-of-concept study published in ACS Nano.


Scientists have previously developed microscale robots that can handle tiny objects, but most of them can't alter their form to perform complex operations such as delivering medicines. Some groups have made 4D-printed devices (3D-printed devices that change shape in response to certain stimuli), but they mostly execute straightforward tasks and their movement is uncontrollable.


Jiawen Li, Li Zhang, Dong Wu and colleagues wanted to create shape-morphing microrobots that could be guided by magnetic fields to specific locations to deliver therapies. Since tumors exist in acidic microenvironments, the researchers decided to build the microrobots alter form in response to a decrease in pH.


The scientists printed 4D microrobots in the shapes of a crab, a butterfly, or a fish from pH-responsive hydrogels.


The team used pH-controlled shape morphing to encode color change by adjusting print density at specific areas of the form, such as the crab's claws' edges and the butterfly's wings.


The researchers demonstrated various capabilities of the microrobots in several tests. For example, a fish-shaped microrobot had an adjustable "mouth" that opened and closed. The team showed that they could steer the fish through simulated blood vessels to reach cancer cells at a specific region of a petri dish.


When they lowered the pH of the surrounding solution, the fish opened its mouth to release a chemotherapy drug, which killed nearby cells.


Although this research is a promising proof of concept, the microrobots must be reduced even more to navigate actual blood vessels, and a suitable imaging approach should be found to follow their motions in the body, according to the researchers.





Billy Carson Fractal Holographic Universe Lecture



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About the Blogger:


April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com


To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav


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