MIT researchers are researching robotic bacteria that walk through human bodies that could help deliver drugs to different organs and even detect tumors. In a journal article published in Physical Review Letters, a team lead by Alfredo Alexander-Katz described how they could make robots reminiscent of 1980s science fiction movie Innerspace.
“We can make this thing walk and find regions where certain receptors are being expressed,” Katz said. “It could deliver drugs.” The MIT team paired two microscopic magnetic beads on an artificial surface, where they then moved from areas of low friction to areas of high friction. Made from mixtures of polymers and metals, the beads are the first step in creating microscopic machines which can be injected or ingested into the human body. Research into the next steps in the process will take years, but the technique shows potential for future discoveries.