Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Magnet-guided microbots deliver cells where they're needed

28 June 2019

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It’s no good having a chef to make delicious pizzas, but no waiters or delivery people to bring them to hungry customers. Likewise, exciting new stem-cell treatments, that promise to boost recovery with renewed growth from starter cells that can develop into any number of other forms, are only useful if the stem cells can be transported to where they’re needed. A new study has developed magnet-controlled microbots to help overcome this limitation. The tiny structures provide a scaffold for cells like neurons (brain cells, orange, right) and oligodendrocytes (support cells in the brain, stained green, left) to grow, and can then be guided through the body with external magnets. Initial tests have shown that the parcels can be precisely delivered, raising hopes that one day this system could improve treatments, especially for Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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