Image of the neuron-delivery microrobot: the cultivation of neurons put on the...
Image of the neuron-delivery microrobot: the cultivation of neurons put on the microrobot according to a micropattern is shown by fluorescence imaging.
Source: DGIST

A microrobot for brain disease research

Researchers at Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) have developed a neural cell delivery microrobot that connects neural networks by accurately delivering neurons to the intended locations under the in vitro environment. The development is expected to play a significant role in future research of various nervous-system-related diseases, such as dementia, epilepsy, and other severe brain diseases.

Research on microrobot technology for the treatment of human tissues that makes drug treatment and surgeries possible is currently drawing attention. Microrobots can accurately deliver neural cells without wasting cells or drugs since they are controlled through wireless control using external magnetic fields. Professor Hongsoo Choi and his team from the department of Robotics Engineering succeeded in developing a platform that makes neuron delivery and neural network connection possible by using these advantages of microrobots.

The research team produced a microrobot with a length of 300µm using the 3D laser lithography process and created a groove of 5-µm patterns on the robot body to cultivate neurons. The structures underwent a metal deposition process of nickel and titanium oxide thin films for magnetic field driving and biocompatibility.

To verify the connecting ability of the microrobot to the neural network, the research team separated and cultivated hippocampal neurons independently on a microelectrode array (MEA), which is a measuring system for electric signals generated by neurons. After cultivating hippocampal neurons on the microrobot body, they moved the microrobot to connect the hippocampal neurons on the chip. The microrobot carrying neurons moved quickly to interconnect neurons and checked electric signals exchanged between neurons. The research team confirmed for the first time that neural networks of a desired pattern can be connected through this process and proved the possibility of analyzing physiological functions by connecting many neurons.

Professor Choi said: “This research will be a breakthrough in analysis of functional biosignals for research of various nervous system diseases, because the microrobot can connect in vitro neurons in a desired pattern. We expect that the development will be applicable to various application studies based on the electrophysiological analysis of neurons.” He also revealed his plans, saying “We will make an effort to use this microrobot for various medical and engineering purposes through follow-up research.”

The research result was published in Science Advances.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

Xenobots 2.0: The next generation of living robots

Xenobots 2.0: The next generation of living robots

Researchers have created life forms that self-assemble a body from single cells and do not require muscle cells to move. They're faster, live longer, and can now record information.

Robot dances highlight new kind of order in active matter

Robot dances highlight new kind of order in active matter

Scientists have proposed a new principle by which active matter systems can spontaneously order, without need for higher level instructions or even programmed interaction among the agents.

Magnetic spray transforms objects into millirobots

Magnetic spray transforms objects into millirobots

Scientists have developed an easy way to make millirobots by coating objects with a glue-like magnetic spray.

Laser jolts microscopic robots into motion

Laser jolts microscopic robots into motion

Researchers have created the first microscopic robots that incorporate semiconductor components, allowing them to be controlled with standard electronic signals.

3D printed rubbery brain implants

3D printed rubbery brain implants

Engineers are working on developing soft, flexible neural implants that can gently conform to the brain’s contours and monitor activity over longer periods.

Nanolaser has potential to treat neurological disorders

Nanolaser has potential to treat neurological disorders

Researchers have developed a tiny nanolaser that can function inside of living tissues without harming them.

The robots that dementia caregivers want

The robots that dementia caregivers want

A team of scientists spent six months co-designing robots with informal caregivers for people with dementia, such as family members.

Gummy-like robots could help prevent disease

Gummy-like robots could help prevent disease

Scientists have developed microscopic, hydrogel-based muscles that can manipulate and mechanically stimulate biological tissue.

Nanorobots propel through the eye

Nanorobots propel through the eye

Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye.

Popular articles

Subscribe to Newsletter