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Bionaut Labs plans to treat CNS disorders with micro robots

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by Startacus Admin

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The lowdown on Bionaut Labs, the US startup that's on a mission to revolutionise the medical world with its innovative microscale robots

bionaut01sqWe are, and have been for a while, in a period of time where reality begins to catch up with science fiction; where technology that we accepted as only part of fictional worlds starts to become a reality. One such technology is microrobotics for use in the medical field. 

Perhaps not the swarm of dust-sized flying nanobots that build someone an entire new arm in seconds kind of microrobotics, but the kind where a tiny robot can be injected into the human body and directed to a very specific point in order to inject drugs into the source of an issue, such as a tumor.

US-based medtech startup Bionaut Labs is one company working hard on developing such precision-targeted medicine. The concept is deceptively simple - the drug that needs to be delivered to a specific place in a specific dose is loaded into a tiny robot smaller than a grain of rice which has a thread on it like a screw, allowing it to travel through the human body. 

bionaut labsDue to the size, this robot isn’t controlled by circuits and radio waves, but by magnets. Inspired by 80s experiments where people would direct a wall screw through a slab of meat using magnets, Bionaut Labs are refining that process to make it much safer and more precise. A range of magnets are placed around the area and the magnetic field is manipulated to direct the robot to exactly the right location, where what is known in the scientific community as an itty bitty, teeny weeny plunger activates and ejects the drug into the body. In this way, the drug affects only the actual target, instead of damaging the entire body while the doctors hope that it will also do what they want it to.

The first step for Bionaut Labs is to target brain stem gliomas, a cancer that affects mainly young people. Chemotherapy drugs are prevented from reaching these because of the barrier between the bloodstream and the brain, while surgery and radiation therapy can be too damaging to healthy tissue. A tiny robot capable of travelling directly to the tumor and injecting drugs into it, then, is exactly what is needed.

Bionaut Labs is backed by $20 million in venture capital funding and plans to move to clinical trials by 2023.

If, like us, you're fascinated by the innovations taking place within the medical sector, why not scheck out some of the other fab startups that we've featured previously, such as Disease Screening startup Occuity and Axial3D, the NI-based medical 3D printing startup.

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Published on: 15th March 2021

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