Bio-bots: the living tissue robots and the future of personal health

In March this year, American electrical engineer and scientist Professor Rashid Bashir published a blow-by-blow account of how to design and make a muscle-powered biological machine. Dubbed ‘bio-bot’, the walking, 6mm-long device can be powered by muscle cells, controlled with electrical and optical pulses and could one day roam your body to deliver drugs, detect disease or remove pieces of tissue.

Crucially for would-be bio-bot builders, the process, published in Nature Protocols, describes every fabrication step from 3D-printing a skeleton to tissue-engineering a muscle actuator, including the part numbers for every component Bashir uses in his laboratory.

“We wanted to provide detailed recipes and protocols so that others can duplicate the work and further permeate the idea of ‘building with biology’,” says Bashir. “[With this], other researchers can have the tools and knowledge to build bio-hybrid systems, and attempt to address challenges in health, medicine and the environment that we face as a society.”

It all started several years ago, when Bashir, head of bioengineering and director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and fellow researchers, wanted to answer one simple question: ‘Can we design with cells?’

As Bashir points out: “We realised that if we knew the design rules and knew how to get the cells to communicate, we could use these cells as building blocks for machines and systems.”

By Rebecca Pool | E&T

Image Credit: E&T

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About Peter Coffaro 1060 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 20 years of progressive management success within the medical device industry. As a District Sales Manager for Stryker Orthopaedics, Peter was responsible for managing and directing a regional sales force to achieve sales and profit goals within the Rocky Mountain region. Previously, he was the Director of Sales & Marketing for Amp Orthopedics. In this role, Peter was responsible for planning, developing, and leading all sales and marketing initiatives. Peter is a former orthopedic distributor in the Pacific Northwest. He has also worked with DePuy Orthopaedics as well as Zimmer, and held positions in sales, sales training, and sales management. Peter has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, negotiating and P&L management. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

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