Fantastic voyage: From science fiction to reality

Mar 19, 2007

Some 40 years after the release of the classic science fiction movie Fantastic Voyage, researchers in the NanoRobotics Laboratory of École Polytechnique de Montréal’s Department of Computer Engineering and Institute of Biomedical Engineering have achieved a major technological breakthrough in the field of medical robotics. They have succeeded for the first time in guiding, in vivo and via computer control, a microdevice inside an artery, at a speed of 10 centimetres a second.

Under the direction of Professor Sylvain Martel, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Micro/Nanosystem Development, Construction and Validation, and in collaboration with researchers at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), the Polytechnique team has succeeded in injecting, propelling and controlling by means of software programs an initial prototype of an untethered device (a ferromagnetic 1.5- millimetre-diameter sphere) within the carotid artery of a living animal placed inside a clinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system.

Encouraged by these results, staff at the Polytechnique NanoRobotics Laboratory are currently working to further reduce the size of the devices so that, within a few years, they can navigate inside smaller blood vessels.

"Injection and control of nanorobots inside the human body, which contains nearly 100,000 kilometres of blood vessels, is a promising avenue that could enable interventional medicine to target sites that so far have remained inaccessible using modern medical instruments such as catheters," Professor Martel explained. "In collaboration with our scientific partners, Polytechnique researchers have begun developing several types of micro- and nanodevices for novel applications, such as targeted delivery of medications to tumour sites and diagnoses using navigable bio-sensors."

The results of this scientific breakthrough were published by Professor Martel and 10 co-authors from École Polytechnique de Montréal and the CHUM on March 14 in the scientific journal Applied Physics Letters.

Patent applications have been submitted for this method of real-time monitoring and guidance of devices for minimally invasive surgeries using MRI. Commercialization of the technology has been entrusted to Gestion Univalor, LP.

Source: École Polytechnique de Montréal

Explore further: The hemihelix: Scientists discover a new shape using rubber bands (w/ video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

To treat cancer, is the force strong with nanorobots?

Nov 22, 2013

(Phys.org) —Every day, more than 20,000 people around the world succumb to cancer, according to statistics compiled by the World Health Organization. Thousands more continue to suffer through treatment ...

An octave spanning chip-based optical ruler

Aug 08, 2011

More than a decade ago, the frequency comb technique was developed at the Max Planck In-stitute of Quantum Optics by Professor Theodor W. Hänsch. The new tool has stimulated fun-damental research as well ...

Scientists solve gravity-defying bird beak mystery

May 15, 2008

As Charles Darwin showed nearly 150 years ago, bird beaks are exquisitely adapted to the birds' feeding strategy. A team of MIT mathematicians and engineers has now explained exactly how some shorebirds use ...

TOP500: IBM Dominates Global Supercomputing

Jun 22, 2005

In what has become a closely watched event in the world of high-performance computing, the 25th edition of the TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers was released today at the 20th International Supercomputing ...

Recommended for you

Using antineutrinos to monitor nuclear reactors

14 hours ago

When monitoring nuclear reactors, the International Atomic Energy Agency has to rely on input given by the operators. In the future, antineutrino detectors may provide an additional option for monitoring. ...

Imaging turns a corner

18 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Scientists have developed a new microscope which enables a dramatically improved view of biological cells.

Mapping the road to quantum gravity

Apr 23, 2014

The road uniting quantum field theory and general relativity – the two great theories of modern physics – has been impassable for 80 years. Could a tool from condensed matter physics finally help map ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Phase transiting to a new quantum universe

(Phys.org) —Recent insight and discovery of a new class of quantum transition opens the way for a whole new subfield of materials physics and quantum technologies.

When things get glassy, molecules go fractal

Colorful church windows, beads on a necklace and many of our favorite plastics share something in common—they all belong to a state of matter known as glasses. School children learn the difference between ...

A 'quantum leap' in encryption technology

Toshiba Research Europe, BT, ADVA Optical Networking and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the UK's National Measurement Institute, today announced the first successful trial of Quantum Key Distribution ...