ASA Monitor February 2024, Vol. 88, 16.
Microscopic robots heal neural tissue
Researchers at Tufts University and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have developed microscopic biological robots, called Anthrobots, from human tracheal cells. These robots, ranging from the width of a human hair to the point of a sharpened pencil, are created to self-assemble and have demonstrated a healing effect on other cells. In the current study, the Anthrobots were constructed from adult human cells without any genetic modification. The researchers envision using patient-derived biobots as therapeutic tools for regeneration, healing, and disease treatment. The Anthrobots, made from cells on the surface of the trachea, are covered with cilia. The study demonstrated different shapes and types of movement, showcasing their potential in diverse applications. Anthrobots don’t require shaping with tweezers or scalpels, and they can be made from adult cells, making them fully scalable. The researchers suggest that swarms of these bots could be produced in parallel, offering a promising start for developing therapeutic tools. The study also explored Anthrobots’ ability to heal wounds, with the bots triggering substantial regrowth of neurons in a lab dish. While the exact mechanism is not yet clear, the unmodified Anthrobots demonstrated efficient healing of live neural tissue. This breakthrough could lead to various applications, such as clearing plaque buildup in arteries, repairing spinal cord or retinal nerve damage, recognizing bacteria or cancer cells, and delivering drugs to targeted tissues.