MIT scientists have developed robotics to crawl through the blood vessels and into the brain to treat blood clots and such.
The researchers at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have developed a robot which resembles a thread or worm which can crawl through the blood vessels and reach the brain.
To treat blood clots, strokes, and aneurysms doctors have longed used the complex treatment procedure with a high-risk factor, known as mechanical thrombectomy. Mechanical thrombectomy requires the use of a metal wire to be manually guided through the blood vessels starting from all the way down in the artery of the upper thigh. There exists a high-risk factor with this treatment procedure as it involves a specialized professional to use X-rays to guide the wire which could expose patients to tissue-damaging radiation. This may change is with the advent of the new robot developed by the MIT scientists.
Detailed in the journal Science Robotics, this robot eliminates the risk involved with mechanical thrombectomy as the robot moves with the help of magnetism and can be operated remotely. This robot was developed by Xuanhe Zhao, associate professor of mechanical engineering and of civil and environmental engineering at MIT along with lead author Yoonho Kim, and a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. The main aim of creating the robot is to aid doctors in delivering clot reducing therapies to patients who have blockages or lesions, such as the ones that occur in aneurysms and stroke.
“Stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. If acute stroke can be treated within the first 90 minutes or so, patients’ survival rates could increase significantly,” Zhao said in a statement. “If we could design a device to reverse blood vessel blockage within this ‘golden hour,’ we could potentially avoid permanent brain damage. That’s our hope.”
The most important aspects that were taken into consideration include the expertise of hydrogels and biocompatible materials made mostly of water and 3D printed materials. The core of this robot was made from a nickel-titanium alloy called nitinol which is both bendy and springy in nature. In the final step, the robot was coated with a rubbery paste embedded with certain particles to give it magnetic properties.
For the demonstration, the team used a silicone replica was modeled after the CT scans of an actual patient’s brain which was then filled with a liquid simulating the viscosity of blood, and finally, the robot was navigated through the blood vessels.
The product is at a prototype stage, however, if successful, it could be revolutionary and result in the use of various robots being used for various treatments.