Polytechnique team has succeeded in injecting, propelling and
controlling by means of software programs an initial prototype of an
untethered device (a ferromagnetic 1.5- millimetre-diameter sphere)
within the carotid artery of a living animal placed inside a clinical
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system. They have succeeded for
the first time in guiding, in vivo and via computer control, a
microdevice inside an artery, at a speed of 10 centimetres a second.
Encouraged by these results, staff at the Polytechnique
NanoRobotics Laboratory are currently working to further reduce the
size of the devices so that, within a few years, they can navigate
inside smaller blood vessels.
"Injection and control of nanorobots inside the human body, which
contains nearly 100,000 kilometres of blood vessels, is a promising
avenue that could enable interventional medicine to target sites that
so far have remained inaccessible using modern medical instruments
such as catheters," Professor Martel explained. "In collaboration with
our scientific partners, Polytechnique researchers have begun
developing several types of micro- and nanodevices for novel
applications, such as targeted delivery of medications to tumour sites
and diagnoses using navigable bio-sensors."