Cancer Fighting Body Robots by Journalist Maryanne Kane of

It’s straight out of science fiction.  Cancer fighting body robots.  But they are an innovation game-changing reality.  Scientists in both Germany and Hong Kong developed them and have aggressive research testing programs underway.   The robots are microscopic.  Magnetic fields control their motion.  They swarm inside the human body for the detection and treatment of disease.  Scientists believe the bodybots will be very impactful particularly on cancer detection and treatment.

Chinese University of Hong Kong Develops Cancer Fighting Body Robots

The Hong Kong bodybots swarm like an army.  They are about the size of a human blood cell or a few millionths of a meter in length.  Researchers remotely operate and  magnetically control the robots to diagnose and treat disease in hard to reach areas of the human body.  What is remarkable is that researchers manufacture them by coating tiny particles of algae with biocompatible magnetic properties.  That enables tracking of the tiny robots in tissue close to the skin’s surface.   Imaging of the algae’s natural florescence tracks the robots.  In more remote areas of the human body, the tiny robots are tracked by MRI.

Scientists successfully tested the robots in the stomachs of rats.  Experts from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Manchester in the UK believe they may be particularly effective in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases like cancer in remote areas of the body.  Also, the tiny robots can detect early signs of the onslaught of disease, Importantly in lab tests, the robots released potent therapies from their algae core.  The treatments selectively attacked the cancerous tumor.  It did not disturb surrounding healthy tissue.

Philips Innovation Technologies in Germany Develops Cancer Fighting Body Robots

The Hamburg Germany bodybots are also swarming, microscopic robots that are magnetically controlled.  They operate as a cancer fighting army.  Their technology is a bit different  from the Hong Kong bodybots.  They’re called “Lego bots” and can move independently of each other.  The robots contain magnetically controlled screws.  They operate within a unique magnetic field which enables independent movement.  The German scientists use magnetic fields to control swarming of the tiny robots

The problem up until now has been making the members of the swarm independent.  Scientists at Philips Innovation Technologies have done it. Specifically, they magnetically control each robot in the swarm to perform unique, individual tasks.

An Army of Hundreds of Robots Fighting Disease Inside the Human Body

German scientists believe they can manipulate hundreds of microscopic robots at once with precise accuracy.  The key to manipulating the robots is the tiny screw responding to the magnetic field.  And, of great importance, there is no need for motors or batteries.  It’s robotic medical breakthrough technology swarming through the human body to fight disease on the cutting edge.

Tumor Bulls-Eye Targeting

Precise tumor targeting is one of the most promising applications of this breakthrough innovation.  Scientists inject the robots’ magnetic screws with microscopic pills.  Doctors use magnetic fields to ensure certain screws release cancer killing radioactive seeds directly into the cancerous tumor while avoiding healthy tissue. The magnetic field turns off the robots with the delivery of the proper amount of radiation.

Future Applications

Cancer fighting body robots appear to be disruptive, game-changing medical robotics with the potential of saving lives and growing exponentially.  Applications include disease detection and treatment.  Another application is for medical implants.  As the patient heals, the magnetic field and magnet robots could alter the shape of the implant to meet the patient’s changing needs.

For more on robotic innovation in medicine, see our Post on Smart Exoskeletons

And for the Philips scientific research

And for the Hong Kong scientific research


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