A team of scientists from the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, were awarded a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue their work on developing a small robot that may someday air neurosurgeons in removing difficult-to-reach brain tumors.

The team have spent several years developing a "Minimally Invasive Neurosurgical Intracranial Robot" (MINIR) prototype and have evaluated the device under continuous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Their next step is to develop MINIR-II, a fully MRI-compatible robot and demonstrate its safety and effectiveness. MINIR-II must be under direct control of the physician, with targeting information obtained from real-time MRI using active targeting methods with sensors embedded within MINIR-II.

Brain tumors are among the most feared complications of cancer, occurring in 20 to 40 percent of adult cancer patients. Current treatment is to remove the tumor(s) through surgical resection, then follow up with radiation and/or chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, in many patients, the tumor's locationm especially tumors embedded deeply in brain tissue, may be difficult to access using conventional neurosurgical techniques. A fully MRI-compatible MINIR could enable neurosurgeons to reach such difficult tumors and greatly improve outcomes for these patients.

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