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Home Industry News New robotic implant designed to encourage cell growth in babies

New robotic implant designed to encourage cell growth in babies

22nd January 2018

A potentially revolutionary prototype robotic implant has been developed to help oesophageal tissue growth in babies.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield and Boston's Children Hospital have created a small robot that can be implanted into the body to aid with the treatment of oesophageal atresia, a rare genetic disease that affects about one in 4,000 babies in the US and Europe.

Sufferers of this disease have a gap between the upper and lower parts of the oesophagus, meaning food cannot reach the stomach. The new robot addresses this by attaching to the oesophagus via two rings, with an incorporated motor stimulating the cells by gently pulling the tissue.

In-built sensors allow the robot to monitor and apply tissue traction depending on the cell properties, meaning the gap to be closed while still allowing babies to move around and interact with their parents while undergoing treatment, rather than being sedated.

Sheila MacNeil, professor of tissue engineering at the University of Sheffield's department of materials science and engineering, said: "The development of this robotic implant is a breakthrough in applying the knowledge that tissues respond to strain with the production of new tissue in a practical and clinically useful manner."

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