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Tiny Robots to Treat Stomach Infections | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Forensic scientists analyse samples in the Toxicology
department at Punjab Forensic Science Agency in Lahore January 13,
2015. — Reuters

San Francisco, London- A new technique allows the use of autonomous vehicles that deliver small doses of drugs directly to the stomach, according to a conclusion reached by a team of scientists from the University of California, San Diego.

Researchers succeeded in treating a bacterial infection in the stomach of mice by using these vehicles which are the width of a human hair.

The US New Scientist reported Joseph Wang, who led the research with Liangfang Zhang saying that the movement itself improves the retention of antibiotics on the stomach lining where the bacteria are concentrated.

In mice with bacterial stomach infections, the team used the micromotors to administer a dose of antibiotics on daily basis for five days. At the end of the treatment, they found that their approach was more effective than regular doses of medicine.

The tiny vehicles consist of a spherical magnesium core coated with several different layers that offer protection, treatment, and the ability to stick to stomach walls. After they are swallowed, the magnesium cores react with gastric acid to produce a stream of hydrogen bubbles that propel the motors around.

This process briefly reduces acidity in the stomach. The antibiotic layer of the micromotor is sensitive to the surrounding acidity, and when this is lowered, the antibiotics are released.

The next steps are to look at a larger animal study, followed by eventual trials in humans. “There is still a long way to go, but we are on a fantastic voyage,” says Wang.