ScienceDaily: Making white blood cells medicinal microrobots by using light


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Physicians might be able to better treat and prevent certain diseases with medicinal microrobots. However, most of these devices use synthetic materials that can trigger immune reactions in vivo. Researchers have now reported in ACS Central ScienceLasers have been used to control neutrophils, a type of white-blood cell. This is a biocompatible microrobot that can be grown in living fish. They were able to perform multiple tasks and could one day deliver drugs to exact locations within the body.

Current microrobots are being developed for medical purposes. They would need to be injected or taken in capsules. Researchers have discovered that microrobots can trigger immune reactions in small animals. This causes them to be removed from the body. The use of cells already in the body such as neutrophils could be an alternative to drug delivery. This would not trigger the immune system. These white blood cell can naturally pick up nanoparticles, dead red cells, and can move through blood vessels into nearby tissues. Therefore they make excellent candidates for microrobots. Previous research has shown that neutrophils can be guided with lasers using lab dishes. This allows them to move about as “neutrobots”. Unfortunately, there was no information about whether this method would work in live animals. Xianchuang Zou, Baojun Li, and others wanted to show the feasibility light-driven neutrobots for animals using live zebrafish.

Researchers used laser beams focused on neutrophils to manipulate them in zebrafish tails. The light-driven microrobot could be moved up to a velocity of 1.3 µm/s, which is three times faster than a neutrophil naturally moves. Researchers used optical tweezer to accurately and actively control neutrophil functions as part of their immune system. One example is the movement of a neutrobot through a blood vessel wall and into surrounding tissue. Another one carried a plastic particle, showing its potential to transport medicine. A neutrobot was then pushed towards red blood cell debris and engulfed it. Surprisingly, another neutrophil tried to remove the cellular debris naturally, but it was not controlled by a laser. The researchers believe that this study opens up new avenues for drug delivery and treatment.

The National Natural Science Foundation of China, Guangdong Province Basic and Applied Basic Research Foundation and Guangzhou Science and Technology Program funded funding to the authors.


MaterialsGiven by American Chemical Society. Notice: Content can be edited to improve style and length.


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