MIT engineers have developed robo-thread that takes us one step closer to robotic brain surgery. This magnetically steerable, thread-like robot can actively glide through narrow pathways, like the brain’s labrynthine vasculature. When this robotic thread is paired with existing endovascular technologies in the future, doctors will be able to remotely guide the robot through a patient’s brain vessels to quickly treat blockages and lesions, such as those that occur in aneurysms and stroke. Read more for a video and additional information.
The robotic thread’s core is made from nickel-titanium alloy, a material that is both bendy and springy that returns to its original shape, giving it more flexibility in winding through tight, tortuous vessels. This wire’s core was then coated in a rubbery paste embedded throughout with magnetic particles. Lastly, a chemical process coated and bonded the magnetic covering with hydrogel to provide the wire with a smooth, friction-free, biocompatible surface.
“Stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. If acute stroke can be treated within the first 90 minutes or so, patients’ survival rates could increase significantly. If we could design a device to reverse blood vessel blockage within this ‘golden hour,’ we could potentially avoid permanent brain damage. That’s our hope,” said Xuanhe Zhao, associate professor of mechanical engineering and of civil and environmental engineering at MIT.