Scientists have developed a bio-compatible micro-machine capable of being implanted inside the body, where it could act as a wireless medical device to deliver drugs directly under the skin.
The device, which measures only 15 millimetres long, is actually a squishy version of a mechanism called a Geneva drive, which has been used in wristwatches going as far back as the 17th century. Only this time, it would be worn inside and not outside the body.
Of course, devices such as pacemakers have been successfully implanted in patients for decades, but compared to inflexible, metallic devices, researchers think soft, supple implants could make a range of new medical treatments possible in the future.
“Traditional implantable devices are made of silicon or metal, and there are certain manufacturing processes that you would use to make devices out of those materials,” researcher Samuel Sia from Columbia University told Abby Olena at The Scientist. “But they don’t work on biological materials, which are much softer, and so we had to develop our own methods.”