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Microrobots to treat inflammatory bowel disease

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Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed a pill that contains very small devices that represent microscopic robots that can move and work inside the human body. The pill releases the microscopic robots into the colon to treat inflammatory bowel disease.

The oral experimental treatment proved successful in mice, the journal Science Robotics reported. result Innovation on June 26 last year, andbooks Information about him is available on the Eurek Alert website.

Intestinal inflammation

disease Intestinal inflammation An autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the intestines, which causes severe abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, diarrhea, and weight loss. Autoimmune diseases occur when the body's natural defense system cannot distinguish between normal cells in the body and foreign cells, causing the body to mistakenly attack normal cells.

Intestinal inflammation occurs when immune cells called macrophages become overactive and begin to produce high levels of inflammatory proteins called cytokines. These cytokines, in turn, bind to receptors on macrophages, stimulating them to produce more cytokines, perpetuating the cycle of inflammation that leads to the debilitating symptoms of IBD. Experts have developed a treatment that controls the levels of these cytokines.

Diverticular disease is inflammation of the diverticula (pouches) in the small or large intestine. Symptoms include bloating and abdominal pain. (Free publication for DPA clients "Depa". This image may only be used in conjunction with the above text and with acknowledgement of the source. ) Lens: dpa Photo: DPA
Inflammatory bowel disease can cause severe abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, diarrhea, and weight loss (German)

New treatments

The research team, led by UC San Diego professors of chemistry and nanoengineering Liangfang Zhang and Joseph Wang, designed microrobots composed of very small particles chemically linked to green algae cells.

The robot absorbs pro-inflammatory cytokines in the intestine, while the green algae uses its natural swimming ability to effectively distribute the nanoparticles throughout the colon, accelerating the clearance of the cytokines and helping to heal the inflamed tissue.

The researchers ensured that the biohybrid microrobots met safety standards. The microrobots are encapsulated in a liquid capsule with an outer shell that responds to pH. This layer remains intact in acidic environments such as the stomach, but dissolves when it reaches neutral pH levels such as the colon, which ensures that the microrobots can be selectively released where they are most needed.

“We can guide the microrobots to the affected site without affecting other organs, so we can reduce toxicity,” Wang said.

The team tried the capsules orally in mice with inflammatory bowel disease, and the treatment reduced fecal bleeding, improved stool consistency, and decreased colon inflammation with no apparent side effects.

The research team is now focusing on testing the microrobotic therapy in humans.


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