A tiny robot capable of detecting and treating early lung cancer has been created by researchers from the University of Leeds. Controlled by magnets, this ultra-soft tentacle measures a mere two millimeters in diameter and can access the small bronchial tubes within the lungs. This groundbreaking development holds the potential to significantly enhance lung cancer treatment.
In cadaver testing, the magnetic tentacle robot achieved 37 percent greater depth compared to standard equipment, resulting in less tissue damage. This advancement could pave the way for a more precise, personalized, and minimally invasive treatment approach.
Known as “magnetic personalized tentacles,” this innovative technology is tailored to the patient’s anatomy, softer than human tissue, and completely shape-controllable via magnets. Pietro Valdastri, the director of the Science and Technologies Of Robotics in Medicine STORM Lab at the University of Leeds, believes that these features could revolutionize internal navigation within the body.
At present, the standard treatment for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer involves surgical intervention, which is highly invasive and often necessitates the removal of substantial amounts of tissue. While lung cancer screening programs have improved survival rates, they have also underscored the importance of finding non-invasive approaches for diagnosing and treating patients in the early stages of the disease.
Controlling Magnetic Robots and Minimally Invasive Medical Procedures
The researchers at the STORM Lab have been investigating methods to control two separate magnetic robots to collaborate within a confined area of the body. These robots hold the potential to assist in various tasks, such as maneuvering a camera or directing a laser for tumor removal.
Made from silicone to minimize tissue damage, the robots are guided by magnets positioned on robotic arms outside the patient’s body. Successful trials have been conducted, demonstrating the use of two robots in endonasal brain surgery. This technique allows surgeons to operate on areas at the front of the brain and the top of the spine through the nasal passage.
Having successfully tackled the hurdle of magnet attraction between closely positioned magnets, the team achieved the remarkable feat of controlling two magnetic robots within a confined area of the body. This groundbreaking accomplishment signifies a significant advancement in the realm of diagnostic and surgical procedures within small anatomical spaces, leading to increased precision and reduced invasiveness.
The research outcomes concerning both the magnetic tentacle robot and the controlled magnetic robots have been published in prestigious journals – Nature Engineering Communications and Advanced Intelligent Systems, respectively.
The development of a tiny, magnet-controlled robot for early lung cancer detection and treatment by researchers at the University of Leeds shows great promise in revolutionizing lung cancer treatment. With its ability to reach deep into bronchial tubes and cause less tissue damage, this groundbreaking technology offers a more accurate and minimally invasive approach.
Additionally, the successful use of controlled magnetic robots in endonasal brain surgery further demonstrates their potential in assisting various medical procedures. These advancements open new possibilities for precise and personalized healthcare, enhancing patient outcomes.