Qualify for a free subscription to HealthLeaders magazine.
Technology: Tetherless thermobiochemically actuated microgripper
Manufacturer: In testing phase at Johns Hopkins University
Purpose: Performing biopsylike procedures in hard-to-reach places
How it works: The grippers are approximately 0.1 mm in diameter, have six fingers with three joints each, and are made of gold-plated nickel that is biocompatible, visible with medical imaging units such as an MRI or CT, and can be steered by magnets outside of the body. The grippers can extricate cells from tissue when activated by certain biochemicals or biologically relevant temperatures. For example, raising the temperature to 104 degrees Fahrenheit softens a special polymer coating on the gripper, causing the fingers to bend and clamp down a minuscule object. Biological solutions can also degrade the polymer coating.
Potential Improvement: Today, when physicians want to collect cells or manipulate tissue inside a patient's body they use microgrippers that are connected to thin wires or tubes. Using untethered grippers would enable physicians to navigate complex areas of the body and move a relatively long distance without getting stuck.
What's Next: Researchers are using a $1.5 million NIH grant for testing and development.
- Ebola: Health Officials Try to Quell Front Line Fears
- Reducing Readmissions Starts with Better Collaboration
- Readmissions: No Quick Fix to Costly Hospital Challenge
- Ebola: A New Normal in Dallas
- Defensive Medicine Still Prevalent Despite Tort Reform
- Partners HealthCare M&A Deal Under Scrutiny
- 'Overtreatment' Debate Circles Back to Lung Cancer Screening
- Health Literacy Month Gets a Boost from Payers
- How Telehealth Pays Off for Providers, Patients
- How Educated Nurses Save Money