Cell Meets Robot in Hybrid Microbots

September 16, 2019

(Knowable Magazine) – Instead of Doctor Who, this enterprise envisions something more like a real-life version of Fantastic Voyage, the 1966 movie novelized by Isaac Asimov. In that story scientists shrank a submarine (with people inside) to the size of a microbe, enabling the humans to travel into the brain of a scientist with a life-threatening blood clot. In today’s version of this tale, scientists are combining living microbes (very small to begin with, no need for shrinking) with an additional cargo-carrying apparatus. These “hybrid biological microrobots” could deliver disease-fighting drugs, attack tumors or perform other helpful functions. Doctors will not be deploying hybrid microrobot armies into anybody’s body anytime soon. Researchers will need to circumvent numerous technical obstacles before microbots become standard operating procedure. But neither is the prospect entirely hypothetical.