Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Microrobots Deliver Stem Cells To The Brain

A team of researchers at Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology, in South Korea, have developed a scaffold microrobot that can precisely deliver stem cells to specific tissues, including the brain. The microrobots are expected to enhance stem cell treatments in individuals experiencing degenerative neural disorders. The team's research was recently published in the journal Science Robotics

 

"Through this research we hope to increase the treatment efficiency and success rate for Alzheimer and central neural diseases, which couldn’t be approached through the existing method of stem cell treatment. Through continuous follow-up research with hospitals and related companies, we will do our best to develop a microrobot-based precise treatment system that can be used in actual hospital and clinical sites," says Hongsoo Choi Professor in the Department of Robotics Engineering at Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology. 

 

Professor Hongsoo Choi’s team developed a microrobot that can precisely transplant stem cells in various in vivo and vitro environments
Professor Hongsoo Choi’s team developed a microrobot that can precisely transplant stem cells in various in vivo and vitro environments. Credit: Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology

From the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology article: "To overcome such limitation, the DGIST research team devised scaffold microrobot in a spherical and helical type through the 3D laser lithography. The biggest achievement of this study is that it minimized cell loss in the body through a wireless control method using an external magnetic field while transplanting stem cells quickly and precisely at the same time.

What is noteworthy is that while the existing researches tested microrobots in a static external environment and not physiological environment, this research cultured a hippocampal neural stem cell on a microrobot for the first time in the world. They divided the cell into specific cells such as astrocyte, Oligodendrocyte, and neuron and succeeded in precisely delivering and transplanting them in the target.

To gain this achievement, the research team showed the cell transfer and transplantation process using the microrobot inside Body-on-a-chip (BOC), a microfluidic cell culture system that replicated a physiological in vivo environment. They also extracted a rat’s brain and injected the microrobot into the internal carotid artery, and transferred it to the anterior cerebral artery and middle cerebral artery using outer magnetic field. A highlight of this joint research is that they cultured the ‘hNTSCs'  provided by Professor Sung Won Kim’s team at the Catholic University St. Mary’s Hospital on the microrobot in 3D for successful experiment."

 

Read more about the microrobots that deliver stem cells to the brain at Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology