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3D-Printed Biodegradable Microswimmer for Drug Delivery and Targeted Cell Labeling




Miniaturization of interventional medical devices can leverage minimally invasive technologies by enabling operational resolution at cellular length scales with high precision and repeatability. Untethered micron-scale mobile robots can realize this by navigating and performing in hard-to-reach, confined and delicate inner body sites. However, such a complex task requires an integrated design and engineering strategy, where powering, control, environmental sensing, medical functionality and biodegradability need to be considered altogether. The present study reports a hydrogel-based, biodegradable microrobotic swimmer, which is responsive to the changes in its microenvironment for theranostic cargo delivery and release tasks. We design a double-helical magnetic microswimmer of 20 micrometers length, which is 3D-printed with complex geometrical and compositional features. At normal physiological concentrations, matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) enzyme can entirely degrade the microswimmer body in 118 h to solubilized non-toxic products. The microswimmer can respond to the pathological concentrations of MMP-2 by swelling and thereby accelerating the release kinetics of the drug payload. Anti-ErbB 2 antibody-tagged magnetic nanoparticles released from the degraded microswimmers serve for targeted labeling of SKBR3 breast cancer cells to realize the potential of medical imaging of local tissue sites following the therapeutic intervention. These results represent a leap forward toward clinical medical microrobots that are capable of sensing, responding to the local pathological information, and performing specific therapeutic and diagnostic tasks as orderly executed operations using their smart composite material architectures.

Author(s): Hakan Ceylan, and I. Ceren Yasa, and Oncay Yasa, and Ahmet Fatih Tabak, and Joshua Giltinan, and Metin Sitti
Journal: bioRxiv
Pages: 379024
Year: 2018
Month: July

Department(s): Physical Intelligence
Research Project(s): Biodegradable microswimmers
Bibtex Type: Article (article)
Paper Type: Journal

DOI: 10.1101/379024


  title = {3D-Printed Biodegradable Microswimmer for Drug Delivery and Targeted Cell Labeling},
  author = {Ceylan, Hakan and Yasa, I. Ceren and Yasa, Oncay and Tabak, Ahmet Fatih and Giltinan, Joshua and Sitti, Metin},
  journal = {bioRxiv},
  pages = {379024},
  month = jul,
  year = {2018},
  month_numeric = {7}