100% Survival – Tiny Swimming Robots Can Treat Life-Threatening Cases of Pneumonia

Pneumonia Virus Concept

Whereas untreated mice perished after three days, nonetheless, all mice handled with the microrobots survived previous 30 days.

Nanoengineers from the College of California, San Diego, have created tiny robots referred to as microrobots that may swim round within the lungs, ship medication, and be used to deal with life-threatening instances of bacterial pneumonia.

The microrobots safely eradicated the micro organism that causes pneumonia within the lungs of mice, leading to 100% survival. In distinction, mice that weren’t handled all handed away three days after an infection. 

The findings had been just lately printed within the journal Nature Supplies.

The microrobots are constructed from algal cells whose surfaces are speckled with nanoparticles containing antibiotics. The algae present mobility, permitting the microrobots to swim round and ship antibiotics straight to extra micro organism within the lungs. The small biodegradable polymer spheres that make up the antibiotic-containing nanoparticles are coated with the cell membranes of neutrophils, a kind of white blood cell.

These cell membranes are distinctive in that they take up and neutralize inflammatory molecules generated by micro organism and the physique’s immune system. Consequently, the microrobots are higher able to combating lung infections since they will reduce detrimental irritation.

Microrobots Treat Deadly Pneumonia in Mice

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

Each Joseph Wang and Liangfang Zhang, professors of nanoengineering on the UC San Diego Jacobs College of Engineering, collaborated on the venture. Wang is a world chief within the discipline of micro- and nanorobotics, and Zhang is a world chief within the growth of nanoparticles that resemble dwelling cells to remedy infections and illnesses.

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 newest of their line of labor.

“Our aim is to do focused drug supply into tougher components of the physique, just like the lungs. And we need to do it in a manner that’s protected, straightforward, biocompatible, and long-lasting,” stated Zhang. “That’s what we’ve demonstrated on this work.”

The workforce used the microrobots to deal with mice with an acute and doubtlessly deadly type of pneumonia brought on by 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 via 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 more practical than an IV injection of antibiotics into the bloodstream. The latter required a dose of antibiotics that was 3000 occasions increased 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 workforce’s method is so efficient as a result of it places the treatment proper the place it must go relatively than diffusing it via the remainder of the physique.

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

“With an IV injection, generally solely a really small fraction of antibiotics will get into the lungs. That’s why many present antibiotic remedies for pneumonia don’t work in addition to wanted, resulting in very excessive mortality charges within the sickest sufferers,” stated 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 information, we see that the microrobots may 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 protected. After remedy, the physique’s immune cells effectively digest the algae, together with any remaining nanoparticles. “Nothing poisonous is left behind,” stated Wang.

The work continues to be on the proof-of-concept stage. The workforce plans to do extra primary analysis to know precisely how the microrobots work together with the immune system. The subsequent steps additionally embody research to validate the microrobot remedy 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,” stated Zhang.

Reference: “Nanoparticle-modified microrobots for in vivo antibiotic supply to deal with acute bacterial pneumonia” by Fangyu Zhang, Jia Zhuang, Zhengxing Li, Hua Gong, Berta Esteban-Fernández de Ávila, Yaou Duan, Qiangzhe Zhang, Jiarong Zhou, Lu Yin, Emil Karshalev, Weiwei Gao, Victor Nizet, Ronnie H. Fang, Liangfang Zhang and Joseph Wang, 22 September 2022, Nature Supplies
DOI: 10.1038/s41563-022-01360-9

The research was funded by the Nationwide Institutes of Well being. 

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