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Micro-Robots Deliver Drugs Through The Eye

Micro-Robots Deliver Drugs Through The Eye

Swiss-made microbots deliver drugs directly into the eye…

A team of Swiss scientists from the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems (IRIS) has developed a tiny microbot that can safely administer drugs directly through into the eye. The drug carrying bot is carefully placed in the eye using a magnetic needle, it is then electromagnetically directed to the exact location on the eye where it then administers its payload.

The group, led by Bradley Nelson, hopes that the new technique will prove to be an effective alternative treatment for conditions such as macular degeneration – one of the leading causes of blindness in old people.

While the thought of having tiny bots crawling on the eye may frighten some, the effectiveness of the bots delivery technique allows doctors to better treat degenerative eye conditions.

Current treatments for macular degeneration involve administering drugs via a needle in the eye – an experience that’s inevitably more daunting than the new alternative – and because the drugs quickly disperse through the retina, patients are required to return to the doctors for regular injections.

The new microbot however, can remain in place for months at a time, alternatively it can drop-off a biodegradeable, slow-release drug capsule for prolonged drug delivery.

The technology has only been tested with pig eyes taken from cadavers, however the team plans to begin testing on live animals sometime in the near future.

Commercial application of the technology is also being researched, however the team did not say how much such a delivery system may cost.

In the video below, the microbot can be seen moving around the eye of pig cadaver.

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  1. Tim Hornyak: Microrobot swims through eyes to deliver drugs. Crave, 03/17/2011.
  2. Sandrine Ceurstemont: Drug-carrying robot roams through eye. New Scientist, 03/18/2011.

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