New bio-bots created are designed to move through viscous fluids like blood in the human body
Bio-bots could be the future of non-invasive surgery
Bio-bots designed after sperm and some forms of bacteria
Engineers have successfully created what is being deemed a bio-bot. The bio-bot created simulates the movement of sperm and some forms of bacteria. This design is the first artificial form that is capable of moving through viscous fluids such as blood within the human body.
“Micro-organisms have a whole world that we only glimpse through the microscope. This is the first time that an engineered system has reached this underworld,” states Taher Saif, a University of Illinois Gutgsell Professor of mechanical science and engineering who led the project.
The bio-bots were designed after single cell organisms that twist hair-like flagella in order to swim. The primary role of flagella is locomotion but they also often have function as sensory organelles, being sensitive to chemicals and temperatures outside the cell.
The bio-bots were created from a flexible polymer with which heart cells were cultured near the base of the head. The heart cells align and synchronize to beat together and send a wave down the bio-bot which is what drives it forward.
The bio-bots require a “minimal amount of engineering – just a head and a wire,” according to Taher Saif. It is not fully understood exactly how the heart cells on the tail communicate with each other and beat together to achieve propulsion, but it is considered “a remarkable emergent phenomenon.”
“The long-term vision is simple. Could we make elementary structures and seed them with stem cells that would differentiate into smart structures to deliver drugs, perform minimally invasive surgery or target cancer?” states Taher Saif.
“The most intriguing aspect of this work is that it demonstrates the capability to use computational modeling in conjunction with biological design to optimize performance, or design entirely different types of swimming bio-bots. This opens the field up to a tremendous diversity of possibilities. Truly an exciting advance.” said EBICS director Roger Kamm from MIT.