Engineers Develop Tiny, Self-Propelled Bio-Bots That Swim Like Sperm

Engineers Develop Tiny, Self-Propelled Bio-Bots That Swim Like Sperm

The beating of heart cells powers the tiny bio-hybrid machines.

A team of engineers has developed self-propelled bio-hybrid machines that swim using the same mechanism as sperm. Sperm, and many other single-celled organisms, use long tails called flagella to swim. The tails move like a propeller to push the cell forward. The tiny bio-bots look a lot like sperm, with a plastic head and long, flexible plastic tail. Heart cells are cultured where the tail meets the head. The heart cells synchronize and beat together, sending a wave down the tail and allowing it to swim. A video of the bot" swimming shows the motion. The bots could be used to navigate to a target or sense a particular chemical in medical or environmental applications.

Taher Saif, University of Illinois Gutgsell Professor of mechanical science and engineering, led the team behind the tiny machines. "Micro-organisms have a whole world that we only glimpse through the microscope," says Saif. "This is the first time that an engineered system has reached this underworld." The synchronized beating of the heart cells is key to the operation of the machines, but how the heart cells communicate is not fully understood. "It's the minimal amount of engineering - just a head and a wire," says Saif. "Then the cells come in, interact with the structure, and make it functional."

The tiny bio-hybrid machines are about 2 millimeters in length, a bit longer than a dime is wide. The team also built bots with multiple tails, which were able swim faster. Multiple tails also added the possibility of navigation. Saif envisions several possibilities for using the bots in biological environments in the future. "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?"

Source: University of Illinois via Science Recorder

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using it will probably make you the biggest jerk in the medical field. and thats something hard to swallow. :P

anyways, i doubt this will be good for delivering drugs since our body already does that really good.
so what will this be for?

naval combat?
i just cant see the point of it, even with the suggested fields it could operate in.

hundreds of these things would be caught by our bodies defenses and programming a swarm to move as intended is a hard thing to do and it will require heavy programming and equipment to coordinate and even observate them to be any kind of effective.

rhizhim:
using it will probably make you the biggest jerk in the medical feel. and thats something hard to swallow. :P

anyways, i doubt this will be good for delivering drugs since our body already does that really good.
so what will this be for?

naval combat?
i just cant see the point of it, even with the suggested fields it could operate in.

hundreds of these things would be caught by our bodies defenses and programming a swarm to move as intended is a hard thing to do and it will require heavy programming and equipment to coordinate and even observate them to be any kind of effective.

I think it's more of a proof-of-concept than anything. That it *is* possible for us to create things that small, and then make them move. The way they did it is actually pretty creative too, attaching living cells onto an artificial frame and having them do the work. It's going to take a lot of these small, individually impractical, steps before we can even being thinking about our first rudimentary nano-machines. Personally, I think nano-robotics is a very far-future concept. There's just so much we need to figure out when it comes to manufacturing them, powering them and programming them, but the end result is certainly worth it.

The current, anti-biotic centric, form of medicine just isn't sustainable the way it's going. We've had modern medicine for what, a hundred years? Maybe a little more? And look how quickly the microbes have adapted to it in that time-frame (granted, a lot of that is because doctors and patients are misusing the medicines given to them). But we're already seeing several strains of previously common pathogens that are developing, or have already developed, anti-biotic resistant versions of themselves.

Nanomachines would be the ideal solution to that problem, once we actually figure out how to make them work. You could engineer them to target specific pathogens, and make sure they hang around in the body long enough to kill every last one and prevent more-resistant mutations from coming about. Not to mention other theoretical applications, like aiding the body's natural healing processes, boosting someone's natural immune system (that would require long-term, long-lasting nanites though), and so on. Once again, I think that sort of tech is a long ways off. My money is in targeted anti-pathogens as an intermediate step though. Specially engineered bacterial and viral strains that can be made to *only* target specific pathogens, wipe them all out, then self-terminate (or be otherwise removed by the host's body) once they're done. They'd basically do the same job as nanites, but potentially easier to make (you're just taming and harnessing natural processes found in nature, instead of engineering an artificial mechanism to mimic them).

Excellent, we'll use artificial sperm to cure all ills!!

Never though I would ever say something like that, thanks science.

MarlaDesat:
Taher Saif

Almost mistook his name for 'Sarif'. This is where augmentations could begin ladies and gentlemen; with robotic sperm.

Great, now robots can breed and evolve just like us. Yet another step closer to a robot uprising.
INITIATE_SLOW_CLAP_SUBROUTINE1

rhizhim:
using it will probably make you the biggest jerk in the medical feel. and thats something hard to swallow. :P

anyways, i doubt this will be good for delivering drugs since our body already does that really good.
so what will this be for?

naval combat?
i just cant see the point of it, even with the suggested fields it could operate in.

hundreds of these things would be caught by our bodies defenses and programming a swarm to move as intended is a hard thing to do and it will require heavy programming and equipment to coordinate and even observate them to be any kind of effective.

Actually, our bodies are terrible when it comes to drug delivery. The reason some medicines cause side effects is because we get excessive quantities to keep the concentration high enough to do its thing before it gets broken down. Chemotherapy is currently being experimented with using targeting beads that release the medicine only in the cancer cells minimizing the nasty side effects. Tuberculosis is one of the 3 deadliest diseases in the world and that is in part because the treatment require daily dosages of medicines for several months where some people stop taking the medicines when they feel better because they have issues with the side effects. Most medicines are treated as toxins and are broken down causing some strain on liver and kidneys over time. Drug delivery still got ways to go before we've reached perfection.

That said I'm not sure if I see a use for these things myself, but I suspect they could be used to determine dangers of closing arteries and finding blood clots. We already have ways to do that already though. At this point I believe this might be just about the concept and the potential of such a thing rather than something inherently useful on its own.

rcs619:

rhizhim:
using it will probably make you the biggest jerk in the medical feel. and thats something hard to swallow. :P

anyways, i doubt this will be good for delivering drugs since our body already does that really good.
so what will this be for?

naval combat?
i just cant see the point of it, even with the suggested fields it could operate in.

hundreds of these things would be caught by our bodies defenses and programming a swarm to move as intended is a hard thing to do and it will require heavy programming and equipment to coordinate and even observate them to be any kind of effective.

I think it's more of a proof-of-concept than anything. That it *is* possible for us to create things that small, and then make them move. The way they did it is actually pretty creative too, attaching living cells onto an artificial frame and having them do the work. It's going to take a lot of these small, individually impractical, steps before we can even being thinking about our first rudimentary nano-machines. Personally, I think nano-robotics is a very far-future concept. There's just so much we need to figure out when it comes to manufacturing them, powering them and programming them, but the end result is certainly worth it.

The current, anti-biotic centric, form of medicine just isn't sustainable the way it's going. We've had modern medicine for what, a hundred years? Maybe a little more? And look how quickly the microbes have adapted to it in that time-frame (granted, a lot of that is because doctors and patients are misusing the medicines given to them). But we're already seeing several strains of previously common pathogens that are developing, or have already developed, anti-biotic resistant versions of themselves.

Nanomachines would be the ideal solution to that problem, once we actually figure out how to make them work. You could engineer them to target specific pathogens, and make sure they hang around in the body long enough to kill every last one and prevent more-resistant mutations from coming about. Not to mention other theoretical applications, like aiding the body's natural healing processes, boosting someone's natural immune system (that would require long-term, long-lasting nanites though), and so on. Once again, I think that sort of tech is a long ways off. My money is in targeted anti-pathogens as an intermediate step though. Specially engineered bacterial and viral strains that can be made to *only* target specific pathogens, wipe them all out, then self-terminate (or be otherwise removed by the host's body) once they're done. They'd basically do the same job as nanites, but potentially easier to make (you're just taming and harnessing natural processes found in nature, instead of engineering an artificial mechanism to mimic them).

there have already been nanomachines developed that could move on their own, but the problem remains that you cant really coordinate or guide them to the designated place.

and most successful guiding of such nanomachines was archieved in an almost sterile enviroment.
the nanomachines would be screwed if they entered the human body since hundreds of mechanisms and cells would work against them.
yes, its a relatively young science ark, but i doubt we will overcome the various defenses the human body can put up against intruders.

"The current, anti-biotic centric, form of medicine just isn't sustainable the way it's going" was never substainable to begin with.
every doctor knew that if you overexpose a medicine to a certain kind of bacteria, the bacteria will mutate and overcome the medicine. its something you get even teached in 4th grade in a more simplistic way.

in WW2 the Allied Powers relied heavily on antibiotics, whereas the russians used phages to combat the bacteria.

this phage therapy got a bit lost since the russians werent in a favorite light after ww2 and everything that remotely came from a socialist state was considered primitive and not worth to look at.

they now have revisited it and are now using it to combat some rampant MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections haunting our hospitals.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phage_therapy

so these nanomachines would have to compete with these phages and since these phages are cheaper, faster to produce and effective, the nanomachines would have to give up in the medical field.

you could use these nanomachines as some sort of water purification device, more so since water seems to be the most effective liquid they can move in.

plus after they purificated the water, they could be retrieved, something i doubt will be possible if it were to enter the human body.

Yopaz:

rhizhim:
using it will probably make you the biggest jerk in the medical feel. and thats something hard to swallow. :P

anyways, i doubt this will be good for delivering drugs since our body already does that really good.
so what will this be for?

naval combat?
i just cant see the point of it, even with the suggested fields it could operate in.

hundreds of these things would be caught by our bodies defenses and programming a swarm to move as intended is a hard thing to do and it will require heavy programming and equipment to coordinate and even observate them to be any kind of effective.

Actually, our bodies are terrible when it comes to drug delivery. The reason some medicines cause side effects is because we get excessive quantities to keep the concentration high enough to do its thing before it gets broken down. Chemotherapy is currently being experimented with using targeting beads that release the medicine only in the cancer cells minimizing the nasty side effects. Tuberculosis is one of the 3 deadliest diseases in the world and that is in part because the treatment require daily dosages of medicines for several months where some people stop taking the medicines when they feel better because they have issues with the side effects. Most medicines are treated as toxins and are broken down causing some strain on liver and kidneys over time. Drug delivery still got ways to go before we've reached perfection.

That said I'm not sure if I see a use for these things myself, but I suspect they could be used to determine dangers of closing arteries and finding blood clots. We already have ways to do that already though. At this point I believe this might be just about the concept and the potential of such a thing rather than something inherently useful on its own.

still i doubt this will be the way to go.

the human body will register them as intruders and try to combat them before they reach their desired destination.

and then we will have to go the same route as ordinary drug delivery and give the body more than he needs to archieve anything.

but we will see how it turns out in the future. i just going to remain skeptic until then.

rhizhim:

the human body will register them as intruders and try to combat them before they reach their desired destination.

and then we will have to go the same route as ordinary drug delivery and give the body more than he needs to archieve anything.

but we will see how it turns out in the future. i just going to remain skeptic until then.

That's cool to be skeptic until otherwise, but I really look forward to see what they do with this. I mean, this thing is like those giant room-sized computers. They were massive and could only do like 1 function or something; they were pretty useless. However, several decades later we have handheld devices that are a billion times more efficient thanks to those gargantuan computers.

Over 20-50 years I imagine these sperm-like robots can probably be made on a microscopic level and everything you're skeptic about will be addressed in order to make it work as a means of medical treatment. I mean, if you told the people that worked ENIAC that in 65 years computers will be small enough to fit in your palm and have several gigabytes of memory they'd think you're dreaming. If you look at this robot as the primitive robot it actually is, you might be able to see that this is going to evolve into something that might be something amazing in a few decades.

Or maybe it turns out to be a dead-end. Who knows where this will go?

rhizhim:
there have already been nanomachines developed that could move on their own, but the problem remains that you cant really coordinate or guide them to the designated place.

and most successful guiding of such nanomachines was archieved in an almost sterile enviroment.
the nanomachines would be screwed if they entered the human body since hundreds of mechanisms and cells would work against them.
yes, its a relatively young science ark, but i doubt we will overcome the various defenses the human body can put up against intruders.

I think that part is actually going to be one of the simpler things to overcome once we get the machines working. Some viruses already get around that by incorporating pieces from their host's cells into their protein sheath to cloak themselves from the body's immune system and make it think they're supposed to be there. The same thing could probably be dome with nanomachines (and targeted anti-pathogens for that matter) fairly easily. You just add an extra step to the process where you integrate proteins, and markers and such, taken from the patient's own cells. basically, you'd just need to engineer them for the patient, as well as for the pathogen you're looking to kill. Designing those cloaking elements to intentionally degrade after so many reproductive generations, or over a certain amount of time could be a way to remove them from the system once they've completed their task. After a while, the body finally notices them and removes them naturally.

"The current, anti-biotic centric, form of medicine just isn't sustainable the way it's going" was never substainable to begin with.
every doctor knew that if you overexpose a medicine to a certain kind of bacteria, the bacteria will mutate and overcome the medicine. its something you get even teached in 4th grade in a more simplistic way.

in WW2 the Allied Powers relied heavily on antibiotics, whereas the russians used phages to combat the bacteria.

this phage therapy got a bit lost since the russians werent in a favorite light after ww2 and everything that remotely came from a socialist state was considered primitive and not worth to look at.

they now have revisited it and are now using it to combat some rampant MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections haunting our hospitals.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phage_therapy

so these nanomachines would have to compete with these phages and since these phages are cheaper, faster to produce and effective, the nanomachines would have to give up in the medical field.

you could use these nanomachines as some sort of water purification device, more so since water seems to be the most effective liquid they can move in.

plus after they purificated the water, they could be retrieved, something i doubt will be possible if it were to enter the human body.

Well in theory, nanomachines could give you a much finer degree of control. Potentially, with sufficiently advanced technology of course, you could program them in a much more specific and complex way, or potentially alter their orders on the fly in ways that you just couldn't with anti-pathogenic bacteria or viruses.

One of them basically just tames and harnesses natural processes to make them do what you want. The other is actually manufacturing a controllable mechanism to mimic them. It's kind of like the difference between training a dog to do a job or specific set of tasks... or creating a robotic dog that could be programmed and follow more complex commands. That's why I said that nanomachines are more of an endgame, high-end sort of goal. When they become cheap and common enough to manufacture in huge quantities on-demand, they would finally make anti-pathogens mostly obsolete due to the much finer control you could get out of them.

Also, no matter how well you engineer your anti-pathogenic bacteria or viruses, there is always going to be a tiny built-in unpredictability. The chance that they could potentially deviate from their objective or mutate. That would be something you'd watch for during the therapy of course and have plans ready to deal with (like dealing with medical side-effects today). With nanomachines, there really isn't a risk of that. They do what they were programmed to do.

rhizhim:
using it will probably make you the biggest jerk in the medical field. and thats something hard to swallow. :P

Yeah, these jizz-bots sound pretty whacky. This guy in the article seems like a real wanker to me. But don't tell him I said that, because I don't want to get spanked. He might swing by my place and threaten to flog me. I mean, unless going that far out of his way would cause him to miss out on skeet-shooting practice. I hear that his good friend Jack is coaching, and if he blew the poor guy off, he'd be stuck out there playing with himself.

Dire Trout:

rhizhim:
using it will probably make you the biggest jerk in the medical field. and thats something hard to swallow. :P

Yeah, these jizz-bots sound pretty whacky. This guy in the article seems like a real wanker to me. But don't tell him I said that, because I don't want to get spanked. He might swing by my place and threaten to flog me. I mean, unless going that far out of his way would cause him to miss out on skeet-shooting practice. I hear that his good friend Jack is coaching, and if he blew the poor guy off, he'd be stuck out there playing with himself.

its still better than the 5 against willy incident last year.
police chief whizzin' jizzum said that if he didnt walk the dog and he had not cum inside willis mancave, they would had finished him off for good.

and still, people dont pity willy since they say he shouldn't had run his hand up the flagpole of the favorite local pocket pool player team.

poor guy gets to wax his dolphin as therapy, as ordered by dr. whackoff.

 

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