Tiny Surgical Tools to Perform Biopsies

Using hundreds of untethered grippers, each as small as a dust mote, engineers and physicians at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, say they have devised a method to perform biopsies that could provide a more effective way to access narrow conduits in the body as well as find early signs of cancer or other diseases.In the journal, Gastroenterology, the researchers described their use of mu-grippers to collect cells from the colon and esophagus of a pig, and earlier this year, they reported in the journal, Advanced Materials, that they had successfully inserted the mu-grippers through the mouth and stomach of a live animal and released them in the bile duct to retrieve tissue samples.Mu-grippers, they say, can collect far more samples from many more locations than current biopsy methods. They provide the ability to do a large statistical sampling of tissue to draw a conclusion. In fact, they say they could deploy hundreds or even thousands of grippers to get more samples and a better idea of what kind of or whether a disease is present.Although each mu-gripper can grab a much smaller tissue sample than larger biopsy tools, the researchers say each gripper can retrieve enough cells for effective microscopic inspection and genetic analysis. Source