MITs ThreadLike Robot Slides Through Blood Vessels In the Brain

first_img MIT engineers developed a thread-like robot that can be driven through narrow, winding pathways—like the blood vessels in your brain.The magnetically controlled device may enable doctors to remotely deliver clot-reducing therapies in response to stroke or other brain blockages.If acute stroke—the number five cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the US—could be treated within the first 90 minutes, patients’ survival rates would increase significantly, according to MIT associate professor Xuanhe Zhao.“If we could design a device to reverse blood vessel blockage within this ‘golden hour,’ we could potentially avoid permanent brain damage,” Zhao said in a statement. “That’s our hope.”To clear blood clots in the brain, doctors typically perform a minimally invasive surgery, in which they insert a thin wire through the patient’s main artery—usually in the leg or groin.Guided by a fluoroscope that captures X-ray images of blood vessels, the surgeon manually rotates the wire into the damaged area. A catheter can then be threaded through to deliver drugs or clot-retrieval devices.“It’s a demanding skill,” according to Kim, who said the passive procedure requires physicians to be specifically trained to endure repeated radiation exposure.“There are simply not enough surgeons for the patients, especially in suburban or rural areas,” he added.Also problematic are the medical guidewires themselves, which are made from a core of metallic alloys coated in polymer, a material that can generate friction and damage vessel linings.MIT researchers are working on an alternative: a hydrogel-coated robotic thread, thin enough to magnetically guide through a life-size silicone replica of the brain’s blood vessels.The core of the robotic thread is made from a bendy, springy nickel-titanium alloy, which returns to its original shape when bent. The team coated the wire’s core in a rubbery paste embedded with magnetic particles, then bonded it with hydrogel for a smooth surface.Plus, the tool is remotely steerable, so doctors don’t have to be in close proximity to a patient or, more importantly, the radiation-generating fluoroscope.“Existing platforms could apply magnetic field and do the fluoroscopy procedure at the same time to the patient, and the doctor could be in the other room, or even in a different city, controlling the magnetic field with a joystick,” Kim said. “Our hope is to leverage existing technologies to test our robotic thread in vivo in the next step.”The soft robotic design is detailed in a study published this week by the journal Science Robotics.Watch: MIT Robot Attempts the #BottleCapChallenge More on Geek.com:MIT’s AI Knitting System Designs, Creates Woven GarmentsMIT Robot Learns to ID Objects by Sight, TouchNew AI Tool Can Help Doctors Detect Brain Aneurysms Stay on target Evan Rachel Wood Just As Disturbed by Humanoid Sophia As Everyone ElseStarship Robots to Deliver Food to More University Campuses last_img read more