Home Science & Technology These nanorobots can float around the wound and kill bacteria

These nanorobots can float around the wound and kill bacteria


Next, they proved that boots can swim. In urea-containing test tubes, microrobots reached speeds of up to 4 micrometers per second – “one or two body lengths per second,” says Sanchez. (People also swim about one body length per second.)

Then it’s time to show that boots can kill too. But the team struggled on how to prove that they can really treat an animal infection better than just using passive antibiotic drops. “It took a while,” de la Fuente says.

Eventually, they developed a setup to test two important criteria: that antimicrobial micro- or nanorobots can treat infected mice and that their active movement plays a central role in this. The team used a needle to carefully scratch the backs of lab mice, and introduced a superbacterium called Acinetobacter baumannii infect the length of each wound. In the process, dense, difficult to treat abscesses are formed. Some mice were instilled with a dose of one of two antibiotics at one end of the abscess. There were no nanorobots in these doses, so to clear the infection, the drug would have to spread itself from one end of the wound to the other.

Next, a separate set of mice received thousands of antimicrobial boots introduced in a tiny droplet. Some mice got bots from LL-37, some got bots from K7-Pol. The team covered each wound with non-toxic urea, expecting the boots to eat up fuel and cover more ground.

That’s exactly what happened. Wounds receiving antibiotics without boots improved only locally. The number of bacteria was reduced from 100 to 1,000 times, but only at the extremities of the wound where the dose was delivered. The rest of the wound passed as if it had not been treated.

But nanorobots carrying an antimicrobial peptide were treated completely wounds and reduced the number of bacteria in the wound by 100-1000 times along its entire length, to a level that the immune system can handle.

And to end it all, when scientists gave up urea fuel, they found that antibiotics didn’t cure the entire infection. Without this fuel they worked only locally, like drugs without boots. Fuel was needed – that is, for the engine movement was important, the team concluded.

The result is one of the most compelling examples of the practical use of nanomotors, according to van Heest. “It’s always very difficult to establish whether this is really a consequence of particle mobility,” he says. “In this case, the evidence is direct and clear.”

Douglas Dahl, head of urological oncology at Mass General Brigham, calls nanorobots “phenomenal technology”. Like van Heest, Dahl sees in nanorobots a great potential for maintaining the safety of knee implants, hip implants and even the penis.

Another application would be to treat kidney stones, which often store bacterial biofilms along hard-to-reach crevices. “If you go for their surgery, the bacteria can spill inside the patient and make them very sick,” he says. Similarly, urothelial carcinomas, which affect the mucous membranes of the bladder, ureter and kidneys, also grow in tight spaces, complicating treatment. He believes that self-propelled drugs can help doctors attack these elusive tumors and germs. In addition, between the urinary tract, bladder and kidneys you have “a lot of fuel”, says Dahl – enough urea to feed the nanoarmy.

In 1966, a fantasy film Fantastic journey imagined a wrinkled submarine on a mission through the blood. Although Sanchez’s nanorobots can’t work in blood flowing much faster than they can move, he still assumes fantastic journeys through slower-moving body fluids such as mucus and skin. interstitial fluid. And nanorobots still have a way to make people dream of ideas on the edge of reality. “As scientists, we are all inspired by science fiction,” says de la Fuente. “And I think our job sometimes is to try to bring these two worlds closer together. What seems like science fiction today, I hope, will become a reality in a few years. “

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