Scientists build biological robots from human tracheal cells

Researchers from Tufts University and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have created tiny biological robots they call Anthrobots from human tracheal cells that can move across a surface and have discovered that they stimulate the growth of neurons in a damaged region on a laboratory plate.

The multicellular robots, which range in size from the width of a human hair to the tip of a sharpened pencil, are designed to self-assemble and have been shown to have a remarkable healing effect on other cells. The discovery is a starting point for the researchers’ vision of using patient-derived biobots as new therapeutic tools for regenerating, healing and treating diseases.

The discovery points out that the bots can indeed be created from adult human cells without any genetic modification and demonstrate some capabilities beyond what has been observed with Xenobots.

Michael Levin and Gizem Gumuskaya gave human cells, after decades of quiet life in the trachea, a chance to reboot and find ways to create structures and tasks. What’s more, they discovered that the cells could not only create multicellular forms, but could also move in different ways over a surface of human neurons grown on a laboratory plate and stimulate new growth to fill in the gaps caused by the scratching of the cell layer.

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