Breakthrough microrobotics: targeted cell stimulation unveiled

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have pioneered a groundbreaking microrobot, heralded as the first of its kind, capable of maneuvering within cellular networks and precisely stimulating individual cells. Led by Berna Ozkale Edelmann, a professor specializing in Nano- and Microrobotics, this innovation holds promise for revolutionizing treatment methodologies for cancer and other diseases.

Edelmann envisions a future where these microrobots assemble tissues synthetically, aiming to repair damaged tissues or organs tailored to each patient, akin to an automated car manufacturing process. These microrobots, crafted from seaweed and measuring half the width of a human hair, possess a soft consistency mirroring that of human cells. Through the integration of nanomaterials, they can be wirelessly controlled.

Philipp Harder, a PhD student on the project, elucidates the mechanism behind the microrobots’ control, revealing the role of laser-induced heating of gold nanoparticles within the robots. This technique enables precise manipulation of the microrobots within cellular clusters, facilitating targeted stimulation and observation of multiple cells.

While immediate application in cancer treatment remains elusive, Professor Edelmann underscores the technology’s vital role in advancing bioengineering and pharmaceutical research. The Technology Center at TUM stands at the forefront of this revolutionary technology, catalyzing progress toward transformative medical interventions.

Photo credit: Technical University of Munich. Shows Prof. Berna Ozkale Edelmann and PhD student Philipp Harder