Researchers from Tufts University and Harvard’s Wyss Institute have created tiny biological robots called Anthrobots from human tracheal cells that can move across a surface and encourage the growth of neurons across a damaged region. The robots are made to self-assemble and have been shown to heal themselves. The researchers used human cells instead of frog embryos and found that Anthrobots could be constructed without genetic modification and have additional capabilities compared to earlier biobots. The researchers are working on using patient-derived biobots as new therapeutic tools for regeneration and treatment of disease. The Anthrobots are only temporary and won’t trigger an immune response if used in a patient. They can also encourage healing and growth of tissues. The researchers envision using Anthrobots to clear plaque, repair spinal cord or retinal nerve damage, recognize bacteria or cancer cells, and deliver drugs to specific tissues. The Anthrobots are created by growing cells from the surface of the trachea in the lab, so can be made from adult human cells without genetic engineering. They move through tiny hairlike projections and are fully scalable, meaning many can be produced at once. The bots were observed to help heal neural tissue in the lab. Their applications and capabilities make them a very promising field in biological robotics.

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