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These Trojan horse ‘neurobots’ bootleg drugs past the blood-brain barrier

A team of advisers in China afresh ample out how to turn the E coli bacilli into a hybrid robot that smuggles drugs past the blood-brain barrier by assuming to be a white blood cell.

These little robots in disguise represent a advance in our adeptness to treat diseases such as cancer.

Background: There’s a party going on in our brains 24/7, but the guest list is very exclusive. The blood-brain barrier, a careful border that keeps out the riff-raff, takes its job very seriously.

In fact, it’s difficult for doctors to treat diseases such as some types of cancer because of the claiming complex in accepting drugs past this barrier. When drugs are injecting into the blood stream they’re chock-full at the brain, and jabbing all-overs anon into our skulls is an often abominable commitment method.

But the China team’s new method skips past all that using the ancient Trojan horse commitment method.

Per the researchers’ paper:

Here, we report a neutrophil-based microrobot (“neutrobot”) that can actively bear cargo to cancerous glioma in vivo.

The neutrobots are complete through the phagocytosis of Escherichia coli membrane-enveloped, drug-loaded alluring nanogels by accustomed neutrophils, where the E. coli film camouflaging enhances the adeptness of phagocytosis and also prevents drug arising inside the neutrophils.

With controllable intravascular movement upon acknowledgment to a alternating alluring field, the neutrobots could apart accumulated in the brain and after cross the blood-brain barrier through the absolute chemotactic motion of neutrobots along the acclivity of anarchic factors.

How it works: Basically the advisers biconcave out E coli bacilli (probably not the strain associated with tummy trouble) and bearded it as white blood cells. They then used a alluring field to guide the hybrid robots to the blood-brain barrier where their fake IDs allegedly held up.

So far, this has only been tested on mice. But mice brains aren’t that far off from ours (that’s why we test stuff like this on them) so there’s plenty of room for optimism when it comes to any closing human trials.

Quick take: This is amazing. I became a announcer so I could write sentences like “scientists are alleviative cancer by creating drug-smuggling robots out of E coli bacteria.” It’s an absurd use of robotics and a absurd band-aid to an age-old problem.

The idea of absolution robots accomplish Trojan horse attacks on our brain might sound scary up front, but when the another involves accepting a hole accomplished in your head the choice makes a little more sense.

Check out the whole paper here in the Science Robotics journal.

Published April 6, 2021 — 17:26 UTC

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