This wormlike robot is made to wriggle through the human brain

  
Via:  tig  •  2 weeks ago  •  26 comments

This wormlike robot is made to wriggle through the human brain
Experts say the device could ultimately be a "quantum leap" in treating strokes.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


By   David Freeman

Scientists have developed a robotic device that could transform the   treatment for strokes , which each year strike 795,000 Americans and kill 140,000. It’s a   wormlike robot   designed to wend its way through the maze of tiny blood vessels inside the human brain to break up the blood clots causing the stroke and restore the flow of blood.

The clot-busting device, which would open clogged blood vessels with beams of laser light or precisely delivered doses of clot-dissolving medication, is in an early stage of development. But experts hailed the potential of the device, which is described in a   paper published Aug. 28 in the journal Science Robotics .

“It could markedly enhance access to clot-retrieval treatments, which at the moment are limited to comprehensive stroke centers,” said Ralph Sacco, chairman of neurology at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine and past-president of the American Heart Association. “It would be a quantum leap … in access to clot retrieval therapy.”

Greater access to effective stroke treatment would mean more patients would be treated during the so-called   golden hour , before oxygen-starved brain tissue dies and patients face an increased risk of death or permanent disability.

A new video from the MIT researchers who developed the magnetically steered device shows an early prototype quickly threading its way through a life-size silicone replica of the brain’s mazelike vasculature, which included simulated blood as well as simulated clots and aneurysms — weakened areas of blood vessels that might also be fixable with the new device.

Since the robot is guided by magnets rather than directly by the hands of a doctor with specialized expertise in stroke care — as is the case with conventional clot-retrieval catheters — doctors would be able to steer it from another room or even another hospital. Thus doctors could potentially limit their exposure to the X-rays needed to visualize the tiny blood vessels inside the brain. Patients in areas with limited local medical resources could also receive   prompt treatment via telemedicine   from specialists at a   comprehensive stroke center   far away in another city.

Xuanhe Zhao, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and civil and environmental engineering at MIT and a member of the team that developed the device, said it might even be possible to incorporate artificial intelligence into the magnetic-control system so that it could be operated by health care providers with even less specialized training.

“There are just not enough experienced doctors to perform the surgery,” Zhao said.

The device, which would be inserted into the patient’s body through a small incision in the groin or neck and then snaked up to the brain, is smaller than conventional clot-retrieval catheters and has a slippery, friction-reducing gel coating around the flexible alloy wire at its core. Those features could give the robot another potential advantage over existing catheters: the ability to venture inside even extremely narrow blood vessels.

“It can reach places that catheters can’t reach now,” said Bradley Nelson, a professor of robotics and intelligent systems at the Swiss technical university ETH Zurich. “We’re seeing devices that can go deeper into the body along more tortuous paths. This is a step along the way.”

Many steps lie between the current prototype and a commercial version of the robot. Zhao said tests of the device on animals might begin within a year or two but that it might take a decade or longer for the device to treat humans.

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TᵢG
1  seeder  TᵢG    2 weeks ago

This is the tip of the iceberg.   There are other technologies such as applying sound coupled with lasers and holographic based algorithms to see inside our bodies with localized devices rather than huge MRIs (and better than MRI resolution).

This nano technology is going to be a major game changer for the medical field.

 
 
 
igknorantzrulz
1.1  igknorantzrulz  replied to  TᵢG @1    2 weeks ago

Impressive technology, and i was , till that last paragraph where it mentions it won't be available in humans for another decade.

Wasn't nano technology what they were using in a foreshadowing of technology to come, in the GI Joe movies ? 

 
 
 
TᵢG
1.1.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  igknorantzrulz @1.1    2 weeks ago

A decade is not that far away.   And, of course, along the way we will continue to see advances in this spirit.   

 
 
 
igknorantzrulz
1.1.2  igknorantzrulz  replied to  TᵢG @1.1.1    2 weeks ago

Technology is difficult for me to ever even attempt to keep up with, but at least medical technology is some of the best our species has to offer.

After all, most of our technologies seem to be geared towards the opposite of say , saving lives.

I blame the monetary incentives that have been thoroughly exploited via Big pHarma, and the Military Industrial Complex, where Greed seems to be the driving factor, as opposed to the betterment of mankind.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
1.1.3  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  igknorantzrulz @1.1    2 weeks ago

Not to mention the more than likely astronomical cost of treatment in the beginning. Like all new such technology, only the very top percentile will be able to afford the cost.

 
 
 
igknorantzrulz
1.1.4  igknorantzrulz  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @1.1.3    2 weeks ago

Agreed

 
 
 
Enoch
1.2  Enoch  replied to  TᵢG @1    2 weeks ago

Dear Friend TiG: Its a great development.

Brave new world, medicine is.

Bravo.

E.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
2  sandy-2021492    2 weeks ago

So, the thought of this thing slithering around in my brain gives me the heebie-jeebies, but if it helps stroke victims, bring on the nanobots.

 
 
 
TᵢG
2.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2    2 weeks ago

I hear you.   But it is all relative, right?   If you had a stroke and this could save your life (or even your mobility) the choice would likely be easy.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
2.1.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  TᵢG @2.1    2 weeks ago

I'd absolutely let them use it, if it could save brain function.

But I'd probably have nightmares about it later.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
2.1.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2.1.1    2 weeks ago

I was thinking the same thing

"A robot worm? In my brain? Well, all righty then!"

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
3  Buzz of the Orient    2 weeks ago

Medical advances are occurring with leaps and bounds these days.  It's great to see it.

 
 
 
Kavika
4  Kavika     2 weeks ago
Since the robot is guided by magnets rather than directly by the hands of a doctor with specialized expertise in stroke care — as is the case with conventional clot-retrieval catheters — doctors would be able to steer it from another room or even another hospital. Thus doctors could potentially limit their exposure to the X-rays needed to visualize the tiny blood vessels inside the brain. Patients in areas with limited local medical resources could also receive prompt treatment via telemedicine from specialists at a comprehensive stroke center far away in another city.

Amazing.

 
 
 
Enoch
4.1  Enoch  replied to  Kavika @4    2 weeks ago

Finally, a use for worms not engaged at Jay's Diner.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
4.1.1  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Enoch @4.1    2 weeks ago

LMAO!

 
 
 
Enoch
4.1.2  Enoch  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4.1.1    2 weeks ago

LOL

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
5  Just Jim NC TttH    2 weeks ago

Anyone else remember the movie "Fantastic Voyage" from 1966? 

 
 
 
igknorantzrulz
5.1  igknorantzrulz  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @5    2 weeks ago

vaguely remember shrunken sub or something travelling through body

 
 
 
Freefaller
6  Freefaller    2 weeks ago

This is amazing stuff, I'm glad we have scientists who actually think up and create this tech.  My cousin had a stroke when she was 33 and trust me her life since has not been easy 

 
 
 
Kathleen
7  Kathleen    2 weeks ago

Interesting how modern medicine can resort back to a middle age treatment. Using living things to help other living things is becoming more prevalent.  I hope it has success.  

 
 
 
TᵢG
7.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Kathleen @7    2 weeks ago

Well not really 'living' in the conventional sense.   It is an automaton so I suppose we would call it artificial life.

 
 
 
Kathleen
7.1.1  Kathleen  replied to  TᵢG @7.1    2 weeks ago

Sorry about that.

 
 
 
TᵢG
7.1.2  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Kathleen @7.1.1    2 weeks ago

LOL, nothing to apologize for.   After all (as Sandy notes) it might as well be a living worm in terms of the eeery factor.

 
 
 
Kathleen
7.1.3  Kathleen  replied to  TᵢG @7.1.2    2 weeks ago

Yes, it is creepy though. It almost sounds like a science fiction.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
8  Perrie Halpern R.A.    2 weeks ago

Totally amazing! 

I just love robotics in medicine. When my girls were at Hopkins, they told me that the BME students are beyond brilliant. They are not only studying to be MD's but also getting a degree in Engineering. These are the people who are making these amazing breakthroughs! 

This is the shape of things to come!

 
 
 
TᵢG
8.1  seeder  TᵢG  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @8    2 weeks ago

Absolutely.   Our tools keep getting smaller and with finer resolution.   The inability to get into tiny, remote places has been a big inhibitor.

 
 
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