December 05, 2023

Scientists Create Tiny Human Cell Robots

If the thought of nano-bots – near-atomic scale robots that can perform a variety of tasks – amazes you, then you’ll be downright astounded by the development of “anthrobots”: tiny biological robots created from living human cells.

Three years ago, Michael Levin and his team from Tufts University and Harvard University in Massachusetts used embryonic frog cells to create multi-cellular biological robots (biobots) called “xenobots”, which were capable of collecting material, capturing information, regenerating damage and traversing passageways.

The new organism proved to be a viable subject of study and Levin’s group delved deeper into developing anthrobotos, similar to biobots but made from human cells taken from the trachea (the windpipe).

Levin and Ph.D. student Gizem Gumuskaya not only uncovered that these creations could be made from adult cells and can perform all the tasks of the xenobots, but they also exhibit unique shapes and levels of behaviour; prompting the idea that they could prove to be invaluable in the field of medicine.

“By reprogramming interactions between cells, new multi-cellular structures can be created, analogous to the way stone and brick can be arranged into different structural elements like walls, archways or columns,” Gumuskaya said in a recent statement.

The scientists believe these biobots could be the starting point for new therapeutic tools for patient self-healing and the treatment of a variety of diseases.

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