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Home Industry News Fibre-optic robot ‘could aid precision surgical treatment’

Fibre-optic robot ‘could aid precision surgical treatment’

3rd March 2017

A new type of fibre-optic medical robot the width of a human hair is being developed to advance the field of precision surgery.

Researchers from the Hamlyn Centre at Imperial College London have received 6.5 million pounds in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to develop the technology, which would consist of a flexible hollow optical fibre controlled by a surgeon.

The fibre-bots could access the body through tiny cavities such as the mouth, anus or milk ducts, finding early signs of cancers and delivering treatments through the hollow core in a targeted and minimally invasive way.

For example, it could be used to treat ductal carcinoma by entering the milk duct, mapping the extent of the disease, and enabling reliable and repeatable treatments to be administered by surgeons at the microscopic level.

Study leader Professor Guang-Zhong Yang, director of the Hamlyn Centre at Imperial College London, said: "Another example of where you might use fibre-bots is in cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, where it could travel to the small ductal systems in regions of the body such as the pancreas, which are not currently easy to access non-invasively."

The five-year project will involve the building of a prototype, allowing laboratory trials to be to be carried out. This will be followed by subsequent clinical studies towards the end of the project.

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