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 662 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 20 years of progressive management success within the orthopedic industry. Recognized by MedReps.com as one of the top medical sales influencers in the industry; he has 10 years of combined sales management experience and has held positions as a Director, General Manager and Distributor. Peter has worked for some of the top orthopedic companies in the world - Zimmer, DePuy and Stryker. He is also the founder of OrthoFeed: a popular blog that covers orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson and has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing and professional education. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

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