Microbot can precisely culture and deliver stem cells.

Stem cells are cells responsible for generating specialized cells in the body, with stem cell treatments currently being developed to regenerate and repair diseased or damaged tissues in patients. However, it is not possible to transplant the exact amount of stem cells to the target areas in need of treatment in the body.

Now, a study from researchers led by DGIST develops a scaffold-based microbot with the ability to precisely deliver stem cells to target body tissue. The team states their research is expected to enhance the treatment of degenerative neural disorders as it can precisely transplant the exact amount of stem cell-based treatment cells to human body tissues and organs.

Precisely placing stem cells in situ

Previous studies have been conducted using stem cells on animal models of Parkinson’s, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease, with preliminary studies related to multiple sclerosis being hosted. Clinical and animal studies into the use of stem cells in cases of spinal cord injury have also been completed.

However, treatment efficiency and safety are low in all of the aforementioned due to the huge loss of stem cells during delivery, leading to high costs in treatment. The current study develops magnetic microbots for three-dimensional culture and the precise delivery of stem cells in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo.

The current study manufactures a scaffold microbot in a spherical and helical shape using 3D laser lithography. Results show the microbot minimizes cell loss through a wireless control method using an external magnetic field while transplanting stem cells quickly and precisely at the same time. Data findings show hippocampal neural stem cells attached to the microbots proliferated and differentiated into astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and neurons successfully.

Injecting functional microbots

The microbot was used to transport colorectal carcinoma cancer cells to a tumor microtissue lab-on-a-chip comprising a liver-tumor micro-organ network. They also extracted a rat’s brain and injected the microbot into the internal carotid artery, transferring it to the anterior cerebral artery and middle cerebral artery using the magnetic field.

The team surmises they have developed a microbot for the precise culture and delivery of stem cells. For the future, the researchers state they plan to develop a microrobot-based precision treatment system which can be used in hospital and clinical sites.

Source: Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST)

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