We use cookies to give you the best personal experience on our website. If you continue to use our site without changing your cookie settings, you agree we may place these cookies on your device. You can change your cookie settings at any time but if you do , you may lose some functionality on our website . More information can be found in our privacy policy.
Please provide more information.
Stylus no longer supports Internet Explorer 7, 8 or 9. Please upgrade to IE 11, Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Edge. This will ensure you have the best possible experience on the site.
Brief Published: 7 Sep 2015

Robot Fish: New Medicine?

3D-printed microfish may one day clean our blood

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have created tiny robotic fish that may soon be injected into the human body to deliver medicine and clean up toxins.

"We have developed an entirely new method to engineer nature-inspired microscopic swimmers... smaller than the width of a human hair," says Wei Zhu, a PhD student involved in the research, on science news website EurekAlert.

The 3D-printed microfish can propel and steer themselves in liquid, as well as perform various medical functions – such as detoxifying poisonous solutions, using toxin-neutralising nanoparticles that form part of their bodies. As the fish swim around, the nanoparticles bind with the toxic molecules, removing them and purifying the solution.

The proof-of-concept microfish are set to inspire a new generation of "smart" nanorobots that can detoxify the blood and deliver drugs direct to problem areas in the body. The innovative technology is a major improvement on existing methods used to build microrobots, which have been unable to perform such sophisticated tasks until now.

For more on how technology is supercharging medicine, see Wired Health 2015 and Anticipating 2025.