Microbots powered by the body’s own digestive juices could deliver drugs to the gut as well as assist with microsurgeries.
The microbots were developed by a team from Caltech as a way to help treat tumors within the gut. The tiny bots are made up of magnesium spheres that have been coated with the drug, gold, a sturdy polymer, and a final coating of paraffin wax. Once the microbots are in the body, the paraffin coating is melted with a near-infrared laser, revealing a small hole in the coating that allows digestive juices to enter the sphere and react with the magnesium. This reaction creates steam that will propel the microbot in the opposite direction. Although the bots cannot be steered, they are concentrated in the treatment area in such great numbers that some of them are bound to lodge in the intestinal wall and release their cargo of drugs.