MIT graduate students make huge strides in medical engineering last month after creating robotic thread able to navigate blood vessels in the brain
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology released an article in their newsletter, MIT News, last month describing an engineering feat MIT Graduate students were able to create – the creation of a robotic thread designed to go through the brain’s blood vessels. This robot is said to have been created out of “hydrogels – biocompatible materials made mostly of water – and 3-D-printed magnetically-actuated materials that can be designed to crawl, jump, and even catch a ball, simply by following the direction of a magnet.” These parts of the thread allow for the robot to slide smoothly through the blood vessels of the brain and allow for doctors to control it with magnets instead of manually threading it themselves. ~
The article states that the researchers at MIT “tested the thread in a life-size silicone replica of the brain’s major blood vessels” in order to prove the abilities of their new creation. The researchers were even able to add “a liquid simulating the viscosity of blood” and blood “clots and aneurysms” to simulate an actual brain and how the robotic thread would work. Leading author and MIT Graduate Student Yoonho Kim claimed “the robotic thread can be functionalized, meaning that features can be added — for example, to deliver clot-reducing drugs or break up blockages with laser light.” These functions were tested in research and the students found that when they added an optical fiber to the thread they were able to steer it with the magnet and activate the light when their final destination was reached. ~
This research is just the beginning according to Kim. Kim believes, “a magnetically steerable guidewire does away with the necessity for surgeons to physically push a wire through a patient’s blood vessels. This means that doctors also wouldn’t have to be in close proximity to a patient, and more importantly, the radiation-generating fluoroscope.” This will allow for doctors to have more precision in there procedures as well as less manual labor and less risk of being exposed to the radiation from the fluoroscope used to take pictures of the brain. ~
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