Future healthcare could undergo a transformation thanks to microrobots. The utilization of microbot technology in popular culture, from the murderous nanobots in “No Time To Die” to the highly advanced healing “nanogenes” in “Doctor Who,” may make this a difficult concept to accept.
However, research in this young subject is expanding, and if tests go well, these microscopic robots may replace other medical devices in a variety of fields.
Although the word “micro-robot” has no official definition, it usually refers to robots that are smaller than one millimeter. A nanorobot is a term used to describe robots that are smaller than one nanometer, sometimes known as nanobots, nanometers, or nanomachines in popular fiction.
Despite the fact that the technology has primarily been promoted in the contexts of defense and healthcare, there are undoubtedly countless applications for a little machine that can do a complex series of tasks automatically and repeatedly.
Between 2019 and 2022, there were around 60 patent applications for micro-robots with a focus on the healthcare industry, according to GlobalData’s Patent Analytics database. The majority of applications discuss how to operate tiny robots inside the human body. One of the largest problems in development is controlling a micro-robot inside a human body with absolute accuracy, from outside the body and without a tether. This is especially true because micro-robots are too small to contain numerous machine parts.
Applications in healthcare
A variety of fields, including oncology, general surgery, ophthalmology, infectious diseases, and dentistry, have filed patents for medical micro-robotics. Medical micro-robots have interesting applications in the treatment of aortic dissection, ureteral stone removal, and endoscopies. Future use cases might even involve remote patient monitoring as tiny robots move all over the body and send data to medical professionals.
Other applications for medical micro-robots are also shown by widely reported research worldwide. For instance, Bionaut Labs is concentrating on neurological disorder therapies utilising their “Bionauts” micro-robots. The Bionauts, which were created to navigate across fluid-filled environments, may be instructed to move, puncture tissue, and release medications before being safely instructed to exit the patient.
Initially, Bionaut Labs concentrated on providing therapies for uncommon disorders, such as delivering chemotherapeutic medications directly into brain stem tumours (in collaboration with Candel Therapeutics) and puncturing cysts in the brains of Dandy-Walker Syndrome patients. The company will be able to access faster regulatory routes and launch early feasibility studies by focusing on uncommon diseases. Other early applications in medical micro-robotics are probably going to leverage rare diseases as proof-of-concept as well.
When and where can we anticipate the debut of medical microrobots on the market?
Despite the fact that the US has the largest medical robotic market and some of the top micro-robotics companies are based there, according to GlobalData projections, the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region will likely be the greater hub for micro-robotic innovation. China is the top patent authority for healthcare micro-robots, based on the GlobalData Patent Analytics database, with addressees that include research institutions and universities, including the Peking University School and the Beijing University of Technology and Hospital of Stomatology.
The medical micro-robotic market is still in its infancy, and as shown by studies like Microbot Medical’s yearly 2021 report, the losses from research are significant and may negatively affect the market’s expansion. Additionally, the ability of research teams and corporations to finance the development of new technologies will undoubtedly be impacted by the macroeconomic environment. The hopes associated with medical micro-robots are evident, nevertheless. Investors will have more faith in the technology’s future if even a small number of clinical studies show it can successfully complete novel medical procedures or existing medical procedures with a significantly higher degree of precision.
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