The idea of injecting small robots into the human brain for therapeutic operations was a science fiction, but it could be thanks to an American startup.
In two years, Pioneut Labs plans to conduct its first human clinical trial to test small, injectable robots that can be controlled in the brain using magnetic technologies.
“The idea of a little robot came up before I was born,” says Michael Spiegelmaker, co-founder and CEO of the company. He talks about a team of scientists going through small tissues in the brain to treat blood clots.
After the technology behind the idea of small robots “like science fiction in the 1950s and 1960s”, according to Spiegelmaker, it is now a “scientific fact” that mobile phones have a grain the size of powerful components. Rice.
“We want to make the old idea a reality,” the 43-year-old told AFP during a tour of his company’s research and development center in Los Angeles.
Michael Spiegelmaker (archive from AFP)
The company, which works with renowned Max Planck research institutes in Germany, relies on magnetic energy to operate robots without resorting to optical or ultrasonic techniques because the technology is not harmful to the human body.
The magnetic coils, which are placed outside the patient’s brain, are connected to a computer that remotely and precisely controls a small robot that is injected into the affected area of the brain before being removed in the same path.
And the whole device can be easily moved, unlike the MRI machine, which requires 10 to 100 times less electricity.
The simulation, provided by AFP, is a small bullet-shaped metal roller a few millimeters long that slowly follows a pre-planned path through a bowl filled with gel as dense as a human brain.
As you approach a bag filled with blue liquid, the robot pushes very fast like a rocket and penetrates the bag and exits the fluid.
(Archive from AFP)
The inventors also hope to use the robot to penetrate fluid-filled sacs into the brain when medical experiments begin in two years.
If successful, the technique could be used to treat Dandy Walker Syndrome, a rare brain disorder that affects children. Patients with this congenital disease suffer from bags the size of a golf ball, which magnify and increase the pressure on the brain, causing dangerous neurological conditions.
The company has previously tested its robots on large animals such as sheep and goats, and “data has shown that this technology is safe for humans,” explains SpiegelMaker.
If approved for use, robots could provide significant benefits over existing therapies for brain disorders.
Spiegelmaker claims that the technology of microbots “allows to achieve unattainable targets and to aim again and again on the path that provides the greatest level of security”.
(Archive from AFP)
As a minor surgery
Notably, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year approved a company that paves the way for clinical trials to treat malignant gliomas such as Dandy Walker syndrome and cancerous brain tumors. .
In a recent experiment, small robots were used to inject anti-cancer drugs directly into brain tumors as “micro-surgery”.
Spikemaker, current treatments include targeting the whole body with the drug, which leads to dangerous side effects and the drug loses its effectiveness.
Small robots can provide information about measurements and tissue samples while in the brain.
“The sphere rises”
The company, which has about 30 employees, discussed with its partners the use of its technology to treat Parkinson’s, epilepsy and other diseases affecting the brain such as stroke.
“As far as I know, we are the first business venture to design this type of product with a” clear clinical trial path, “says Spiegelmasher. … the field is rising. “