These nanorobots can swim around wounds and kill bacteria

Next, they demonstrated that the robot could swim. In test tubes containing urea, the microrobots reached speeds of 4 micrometers per second — “one to two body lengths per second,” Sánchez said. (Humans also swim one body length per second.)

Then it’s time to prove that robots can kill people too. But the team struggled with how to show that they could actually treat infections in animals better than just passive drops of antibiotics. “It will take some time,” de la Fuente said.

Finally, they designed a device to test two important criteria: antimicrobial micro or nanorobots can treat infected mice, and their active movement plays a central role. The team carefully scratched the backs of lab mice with a needle and introduced a superbug called a “superbug.” Acinetobacter baumannii Infect the length of each wound. This process forms dense, difficult-to-treat abscesses. In some mice, they instilled a dose of one of two antibiotics at one end of the abscess. These doses don’t have nanorobots, so in order to clear the infection, the drug must spread from one end of the wound to the other on its own.

Next, a separate group of mice received thousands of antibacterial robots administered in tiny droplets. Some mouse robots were loaded with LL-37, and some mouse robots were loaded with K7-Pol. The team covered each wound with some nontoxic urea, in the expectation that the robot would devour the fuel and cover more ground.

This is exactly what happened. Wounds that received antibiotics without the robot improved only locally. Bacterial counts were reduced by a factor of 100 to 1,000—but only at the wound end of the administered dose. This happens to the rest of the wound without any treatment.

But nanorobots carrying either antimicrobial peptide handled all And reduce the number of bacteria in the wound by a factor of 100 to 1,000, to a level that the immune system can handle.

Finally, when the scientists stopped using the urea fuel, they found that the antibiotic robot didn’t cure the entire infection. Without this fuel, they can only work locally, like medicine without robots.Fuel is essential – this means the engine’s sports This is essential, the team concluded.

According to van Hest, the result is one of the most conclusive examples of the practical application of nanomotors. “It’s always been difficult to determine whether this is really the effect of particle motion,” he said. “In this case, the evidence is direct and clear.”

Douglas Dahl, chief of urologic oncology at Mass General Brigham, called nanorobots “extraordinary technology.” Like van Hest, Dahl sees great potential for nanorobots to keep knee, hip and even penile implants safe.

Another application is the treatment of kidney stones, which often contain bacterial biofilms in hard-to-reach crevices. “When you operate on them, bacteria can flood the patient’s body and make them very sick,” he said. Likewise, urothelial cancers that affect the lining of the bladder, ureters, and kidneys also grow in tight spaces, complicating treatment. He thinks self-propelled drugs could help doctors attack these elusive tumors and bacteria. Plus, between the urinary tract, bladder, and kidneys, you have “a lot of fuel,” Dahl points out — enough urea to power the nanoarmies.

1966, science fiction movie marvelous voyage Imagine a shrunken submarine on a mission to cut through blood.While Sánchez’s nanorobots can’t work in blood that flows faster than they can move, he still envisions fantastic voyages through the body’s slower-moving fluids, such as mucus and skin’s fluids interstitial fluid. Nanobots still have a way to make people dream about the idea of ​​the boundaries of reality. “As scientists, we are all inspired by science fiction,” de la Fuente said. “And I think our work is sometimes trying to bring these two worlds closer together. What looks like science fiction today, hopefully a few years from now.”

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