Tiny swimming robots deal with lethal pneumonia i

Microrobots treat deadly pneumonia in mice

picture: Coloured SEM picture of a pneumonia-fighting microrobot made from an algae cell (inexperienced) lined with biodegradable polymer nanoparticles (brown). The nanoparticles include antibiotics and are coated with neutrophil cell membranes.
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Credit score: Fangyu Zhang and Zhengxing Li

Nanoengineers on the College of California San Diego have developed microscopic robots, known as microrobots, that may swim round within the lungs, ship remedy and be used to clear up life-threatening circumstances of bacterial pneumonia.

In mice, the microrobots safely eradicated pneumonia-causing micro organism within the lungs and resulted in 100% survival. Against this, untreated mice all died inside three days after an infection.

The outcomes are printed Sept. 22 in Nature Supplies.

The microrobots are made from algae cells whose surfaces are speckled with antibiotic-filled nanoparticles. The algae present motion, which permits the microrobots to swim round and ship antibiotics on to extra micro organism within the lungs. The nanoparticles containing the antibiotics are made from tiny biodegradable polymer spheres which can be coated with the cell membranes of neutrophils, that are a kind of white blood cell. What’s particular about these cell membranes is that they soak up and neutralize inflammatory molecules produced by micro organism and the physique’s immune system. This provides the microrobots the power to scale back dangerous irritation, which in flip makes them simpler at preventing lung an infection.

The work is a joint effort between the labs of nanoengineering professors Joseph Wang and Liangfang Zhang, each on the UC San Diego Jacobs College of Engineering. Wang is a world chief within the discipline of micro- and nanorobotics analysis, whereas Zhang is a world chief in growing cell-mimicking nanoparticles for treating infections and ailments. Collectively, they’ve pioneered the event of tiny drug-delivering robots that may be safely utilized in stay animals to deal with bacterial infections within the abdomen and blood. Treating bacterial lung infections is the most recent of their line of labor.

“Our objective is to do focused drug supply into tougher elements of the physique, just like the lungs. And we wish to do it in a manner that’s secure, straightforward, biocompatible and lengthy lasting,” mentioned Zhang. “That’s what we’ve demonstrated on this work.”

The staff used the microrobots to deal with mice with an acute and doubtlessly deadly type of pneumonia attributable to the micro organism Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This type of pneumonia generally impacts sufferers who obtain mechanical air flow within the intensive care unit. The researchers administered the microrobots to the lungs of the mice by way of a tube inserted within the windpipe. The infections absolutely cleared up after one week. All mice handled with the microrobots survived previous 30 days, whereas untreated mice died inside three days.

Therapy with the microrobots was additionally simpler than an IV injection of antibiotics into the bloodstream. The latter required a dose of antibiotics that was 3000 occasions greater than that used within the microrobots to realize the identical impact. For comparability, a dose of microrobots supplied 500 nanograms of antibiotics per mouse, whereas an IV injection supplied 1.644 milligrams of antibiotics per mouse.

The staff’s method is so efficient as a result of it places the remedy proper the place it must go somewhat than diffusing it by way of the remainder of the physique.

“These outcomes present how focused drug supply mixed with energetic motion from the microalgae improves therapeutic efficacy,” mentioned Wang.

“With an IV injection, typically solely a really small fraction of antibiotics will get into the lungs. That’s why many present antibiotic therapies for pneumonia don’t work in addition to wanted, resulting in very excessive mortality charges within the sickest sufferers,” mentioned Victor Nizet, professor at UC San Diego College of Drugs and Skaggs College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, who’s a co-author on the research and a physician-scientist collaborator of Wang and Zhang. “Based mostly on these mouse knowledge, we see that the microrobots might doubtlessly enhance antibiotic penetration to kill bacterial pathogens and save extra sufferers’ lives.”

And if the considered placing algae cells in your lungs makes you squeamish, the researchers say that this method is secure. After therapy, the physique’s immune cells effectively digest the algae, together with any remaining nanoparticles. “Nothing poisonous is left behind,” mentioned Wang.

The work remains to be on the proof-of-concept stage. The staff plans to do extra fundamental analysis to grasp precisely how the microrobots work together with the immune system. Subsequent steps additionally embody research to validate the microrobot therapy and scaling it up earlier than testing it in bigger animals and ultimately, in people.

“We’re pushing the boundary additional within the discipline of focused drug supply,” mentioned Zhang.

Paper title: “Nanoparticle-modified microrobots for in vivo antibiotic supply to deal with acute bacterial pneumonia.”

This work is supported by the Nationwide Institutes of Well being (R01CA200574).


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