At the upcoming ILSI-Biomed Israel 2009 conference (June 15-17 in Tel Aviv), researchers from the Medical Robotics Laboratory at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) will be showing off a microrobot called ViRob, that has only a 1millimeter diameter and can crawl through vessels and cavities, when controlled by an external magnetic field. The big idea behind the ViRob device is that it can be used to deliver pharmaceutical payloads to precise locations or pull a microcatheter through tortuous terrain.
Here's what organizers of ILSI-Biomed Israel 2009 conference tell Medgadget:
Researchers are currently examining the possibility of using ViRob as a treatment for lung cancer—the world’s deadliest cancer. ViRob could assist in targeted drug delivery to lung tumors as well as take samples from different areas within the body. In addition, a number of these micro robots could simultaneously treat a variety of metastases. Researchers also plan to install additional equipment on the robot, including cameras, miniature tongs and other miniature equipment.
ViRob measures 1 millimeter in diameter and 14 mm in its entirety was developed in the lab of Prof. Shoham in the Medical Robotics Laboratory at the Israel Institute of Technology. The robot moves using an external electromagnetic ignition system, stimulated by an electromagnetic field with frequency and volume that do not agitate the body, enabling it to maneuver in different spaces and surfaces within diverse viscous fluids. The vibration created by the magnetic field propels the robot forward, as the tiny arms protruding from a central body grip the vessel wall. A basic prototype of the ViRob, which can move as fast as 9 mm per second, has been developed thusfar.