MIT’s robo-thread to ease removal of blood clots in the brain

September 2, 2019

Blood clots in the brain that cause strokes could potentially be overcome in the near future, as mechanical engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, have developed a breakthrough robotic thread that can tend to the blockage in the brain quickly and safely.

MIT’s slender robotic thread is made of nickel-titanium alloy and is flexible and springy enough to navigate tight corners in the brain. The thread is also coated with a rubbery paste of magnetic particles and hydrogel to give it a friction-free, biocompatible exterior.The MIT researchers liken control of the robotic thread to pulling the strings of a marionette, and were able to steer the thread with magnets through the narrow blood vessels in a life-size silicone replica of the brain.

According to MIT, the thread can better navigate the complex and intricate web of blood vessels in the brain than current devices which involve dangerous endovascular surgery. This new invention features a smoother exterior that is less prone to friction, and enables surgeons to avoid radiation exposure because it can be controlled remotely through a magnetic field.

As explained by Yoonho Kim of MIT, “Existing platforms could apply magnetic field and do the fluoroscopy procedure at the same time to the patient, and the doctor could be in the other room, or even in a different city, controlling the magnetic field with a joystick – we want to leverage existing technologies to test our robotic thread in vivo in the next step.”

The engineers hope to expand functionality of their robotic thread with a number of modifications, such as fixing a device for drug delivery or to treat clots using light.


Category: Technology & Devices

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