Transform white blood cells into tiny medical robots using light

Medical precision robotics can help doctors better treat and prevent diseases.

But most of these devices are made from synthetic materials that elicit an immune response naturally. And now, according to a research paper published in ACS Central Science, for the first time, researchers have used lasers to precisely control neutrophils — a type of white blood cell — as a natural biocompatible microbot in live fish.

The multitasking of “neutrobots” shows that one day they will be able to deliver drugs to specific areas of the body.

And the use of a laser to accurately monitor white blood cells in live fish. Researchers have demonstrated that some of the body’s original cells can be “remotely controlled” to perform a variety of tasks with great precision. These goals may one day include biomedical applications such as targeted drug delivery and precise treatment of inflammatory diseases.

Notably, microrobots are currently being developed for medical applications to inject or consume capsules to be inserted into an animal or human.

But researchers have found that these microscopic objects often trigger immune responses in young animals, causing the microbots to be eliminated from the body before they can function.

Using cells already in the body, such as neutrophils, may be a less invasive alternative to deliver drugs that do not suppress the immune system.

These nanoparticles and dead red blood cells are naturally captured by these white blood cells and can migrate through blood vessels to nearby tissues, so they are good candidates for microbots.

In the past, researchers have targeted neutrophils with lasers in lab dishes and brought them to life as “neutrobots.” However, there is no information on whether this approach will work in live animals. Therefore, Xian Juan Zhang, Baojun Li and their colleagues wanted to demonstrate the possibility of creating light-driven “neutrobots” in animals and used live zebrafish.

The researchers manipulated and manipulated neutrophils in the tails of zebrafish using focused laser beams as far-field optical tweezers.

The tiny light-powered robot can move at speeds up to 1.3 micrometers per second, three times faster than the speed of a natural neutrophil.

In their experiments, the researchers used optical tweezers to accurately and efficiently control the functions that neutrophils perform as part of the immune system.

For example, “Neutrobot” was transferred through the vascular wall into the surrounding tissues. Another picked up and carried plastic nanoparticles, a testament to their ability to carry drugs. When the Neutrobot collided with fragments of red blood cells, it scattered the fragments. Surprisingly, at the same time, various neutrophils, which were not controlled by the laser, naturally tried to remove cellular debris.


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