Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Nanobots sweeping away microbial biofilms

22 May 2019

Robot Cleaners

You might have seen the small, circular robotic vacuum cleaners that can autonomously clean your house. While you’re out, they methodically whiz around your living room, sucking up unwanted dirt and debris. What if the same could be done for hard-to-reach parts of your body, or essential medical equipment? Researchers have developed micro-robots that can swarm together to remove biofilms – stubborn mats of bacteria stuck onto surfaces – from equipment like catheters and even human teeth. The nanobots, pictured cleaning a circle from a biofilm-covered surface, could potentially be steered by magnetic fields to remove tricky growths on teeth, saving patients from the unpleasant experience of having a dentist fishing around their mouth, or sterilise contaminated equipment – a particularly promising idea as staving off antibiotic-resistant bacteria in medical settings becomes ever-more important.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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