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Home Industry News Muscle-powered biological robots offer new medical possibilities

Muscle-powered biological robots offer new medical possibilities

3rd July 2014

Innovative engineering research has resulted in the creation of a new class of so-called "bio-bots" that can move using muscle cells.

A team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has created new walking biological robots powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical pulses, allowing the researchers to control their movements precisely.

Each machine is less than a centimetre in size and made of flexible 3D-printed hydrogels and living cells. Previously, the group demonstrated bio-bots powered by beating heart cells from rats, but the constant contraction of the tissue interfered with control.

The new design, inspired by the muscle-tendon-bone complex found in nature, offers much greater potential for the development of biological machines that can be stimulated, trained or programmed to do work.

Caroline Cvetkovic, co-first author of the paper, said: "It's exciting to think that this system could eventually evolve into a generation of biological machines that could aid in drug delivery, surgical robotics, smart implants or mobile environmental analysers, among countless other applications."

The project was led by Rashid Bashir, the university's Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering and a renowned expert in the fields of nanotechnology, biology and chemistry.ADNFCR-8000103-ID-801733006-ADNFCR

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