Friday, November 20, 2009

Medibots: Surgeons in your gut and bloodstream

NewScientist has a story and video on, Medibots: The world's smallest surgeons. Among the technologies discussed is the 20-millimetre HeartLander with "rear foot-pads with suckers on the bottom, which allow it to inch along like a caterpillar."

The HeartLander has several possible uses. It can be fitted with a needle attachment to take tissue samples, for example, or used to inject stem cells or gene therapies directly into heart muscle. There are several such agents in development, designed to promote the regrowth of muscle or blood vessels after a heart attack. The team is testing the device on pigs and has so far shown it can crawl over a beating heart to inject a marker dye at a target site (Innovations, vol 1, p 227).

Another use would be to deliver pacemaker electrodes for a procedure called cardiac resynchronisation therapy, when the heart needs help in coordinating its rhythm.

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