MIT engineers have developed
a thread-like robot that can actively glide through
narrow, winding pathways, such as the vasculature
of the brain. This magnetically-controlled
device is a hydrogel-coated
robotic thread or guide wire that could be used to
deliver clot-reducing therapies and other treatments in response
to certain brain blockages, such as stroke or aneurysms. To clear blood
clots in the brain, doctors often perform a
minimally invasive surgery in which a surgeon inserts a
thin wire through a patient’s main artery typically
in the leg or groin, then manually
manipulate the wire up to the damaged brain vessel. These medical guide wires
used in such procedures are passive and require
surgeons specifically trained in the task. They are also made of a core
of metallic alloys coated in polymer, a material
that the researchers say could potentially generate
friction and damage vessel linings if the wire
were to get stuck in a particularly tight space. To help improve such
endovascular procedures, the MIT engineers
combined their work in hydrogels and
magnetic actuation to produce a
magnetically steerable hydrogel-coated
robotic thread, which they were able to
make thin enough to guide through a life-sized
silicone replica of the brain’s blood vessels. The core of the
robotic thread is made from nickel titanium
alloy, a material that is both bendy and springy. The team then coated the wire’s
core in a rubbery paste or ink, which they embedded throughout
with magnetic particles. Finally, they used
a chemical process they previously developed
to coat and bond the magnetic covering with
hydrogel, a material that does not affect
the responsiveness of the underlying
magnetic particles and, yet, provides the wire
with a smooth, friction-free biocompatible surface. They demonstrated the
robotic thread’s precision and activation by
using a large magnet to steer the thread
through an obstacle course of small rings
reminiscent of a thread working its way through the
eye of a needle. The researchers also
tested the thread in a life-sized silicone replica
of the brain’s major blood vessels, including
clots and aneurysms modeled after the CT scans
of an actual patient’s brain. The team filled the
silicone vessels with a liquid simulating
the viscosity of blood, then manually manipulated a large
magnet around the model to steer the robot through the
vessel’s winding narrow paths. The researchers say the robotic
thread can be functionalized, meaning that features can be
added, for example, to deliver clot-reducing drugs or to break
up blockages with laser light. Their hope is to soon leverage
existing technologies to test the robotic thread in vivo. [MUSIC PLAYING]

73 thoughts on “Robo-thread

  1. Clicked on the video within one minute of posting. If that’s not demonstrated interest then idk what is

  2. Great video, but quick question:
    How can the thread be maneuvered inside the brain during a live operation because, as I understood, the magnet helps in the maneuverability of the thread. So, how can a doctor point the thread to an area when it's hard to see due to the complex vascular and other connections of the brain?
    Thanks and great video.

  3. That's cool and all but so often it feels like these great developments are getting nowhere and you'll never hear from them again.

  4. I can just see endovascular surgeons holding a cylindrical magnet over the patients head, with their third set of hands and arms. Yeah right. Great in the lab but not in practice in an OR setting. Only foolish little boys lack such practical knowledge, not exactly high classed, educated engineers.

  5. Imagine how much progress in future when all military budget all over the world erased, instead turned and given for research n developement, for better world.

  6. And this can also reprogram or kill people. Beware our robot overlords. Just remember, it was all MIT's fault!! Or maybe you can't when all of your memories are deleted??

  7. This is really cool, but I'm just imagining an intern holding a giant magnet running around the OR to direct the wire

  8. they should pulse multiple magnetic fields in such a way so that they can fully control the bending at any point on the wire! But hey, nice desing. It looks promising already

  9. Maybe calling the development Robo-thread is a little buzzy.

    Very cool technology. Awesome materials science application

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