Scientists create tiny biological robots from human cells

Researchers are revolutionizing regenerative medicine with “anthrobots,” biological robots made from human tracheal cells that promise new forms of healing and treatment

Researchers at Tufts University and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have developed “anthrobots,” small biological robots made from human tracheal cells. These multicellular robots, ranging in size from the width of a human hair to the tip of a sharp pencil, have the ability to self-organize and have demonstrated remarkable healing effects on other cells. This discovery opens the way to using patient-derived biobots as new therapeutic tools for regeneration, healing and treatment of diseases.

The work builds on previous research that created multicellular biological robots from embryonic frog cells, called “xenobots.” However, in this new study published in Advanced Science, it was discovered that bots can also be created from adult human cells without genetic modification, with some capabilities beyond those seen in xenobots. This begins by answering questions about the rules that govern how cells in the body come together and work together, and whether they can be rearranged into different “body plans” to perform other functions.

The researchers gave human cells the chance to restart and find ways to create new structures and tasks. It was discovered that in addition to forming new multicellular shapes, these cells can move in different ways on the surface of human neurons grown in a laboratory dish, promoting new growth to fill gaps left by scratches originated in the cell layer.​​

Robots that assemble themselves

Levin, director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts and an associate member of the Wyss Institute, noted that the benefits of using human cells include the ability to build bots from the patient’s own cells to do therapeutic work without the risk trigger an immune response. or require immunosuppressants. Additionally, anthrobots can only survive in very specific laboratory conditions, so there is no risk of unwanted exposure or spread outside the laboratory. They also do not reproduce and have no genetic changes, additions or deletions, so there is no risk of them evolving beyond existing protections.

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These anthrobots self-organize in the lab dish and, unlike xenobots, do not require tweezers or scalpels to shape them. Instead of embryonic cells, adult cells, even from older patients, can also be used. This is fully scalable and swarms of these bots can be produced in parallel, which is a good start to developing a therapeutic tool.

In laboratory tests, the anthrobots caused significant regrowth without any genetic changes, forming a bridge of neurons as thick as the rest of the healthy cells in the dish. According to the researchers, further development of the bots could lead to other applications, including clearing plaque buildup in the arteries of patients with atherosclerosis, repairing damage to the spinal cord or retinal nerves, detecting bacteria or cancer cells, or delivering medications to specific patients Tissue.

Gumuskaya explained that cells have the innate ability to self-assemble into larger structures in certain fundamental ways, which helps scientists build the bots and also understand how natural body plans are assembled, how the genome and the environment work together to form tissues , organs, etc. to create limbs and how to restore them with regenerative treatments.

REFERENCE

Mobile living biobots construct themselves from adult human somatic progenitor sperm cells

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