Subscribe to CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter to enjoy fresh updates on fascinating discoveries and scientific advancements. In a recent breakthrough study, scientists at Tufts University and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have developed anthrobots, tiny living robots created from human cells. These anthrobots hold the potential to assist in reparation of wounds and tissue damage.
In their pioneering work, the researchers selected adult human cells from the trachea of anonymous donors, of varying ages and sexes, which were enhanced to move with the aid of cilia. The tracheal cells have hairlike projections known as cilia that enable movement, and by manipulating the cells’ growth conditions, graduate student Gizem Gumuskaya discovered a way to encourage cilia to face outward and promote mobility.
These anthrobots grow from a single cell and come in different shapes and sizes. Some are spherical and fully covered in cilia, while others have varying shapes and movement patterns. The research team observed that anthrobots encouraged the growth of neurons in a lab dish and even showed potential in healing damaged neurons.
It remains to be seen how these bio-bots could be utilized for medical purposes in the future. The study has opened the door for future applications and offers hope for potential medical treatments. Although the ethical implications of anthrobots have been considered, researchers emphasize that they pose minimal safety concerns. Persisting for a few weeks, the anthrobots eventually biodegrade, making them an intriguing and innovative development in scientific research.