Drug delivery plays an important role in therapeutics and is used to treat diseases ranging from viral and bacterial infections to cancer. For conventional drug delivery, systems primarily rely on passive diffusion which suffers from long diffusion time, ineffectiveness, and could result in strong side effects. However, synthetic micro-/nanoscale robots are able to be navigated into hard-to-reach tissues and can serve as an ideal platform for targeted drug delivery.
The major bottleneck for biological barrier penetration is the strong interaction between biological macromolecules and the micro-/nanobots. To solve the problem, Zhiguang Wu, for the first time, invented a liquid slippery nanolayer coating which enables efficient penetration and propulsion of the magnetic helical nanobots through biological barriers. Such biomimetic slippers nanobots have a size below the mesh size of the barrier networks and can overcome the obstacle from the vitreous, accomplish centimeter distance within eyes, and reach the targeted area in retina. This work was published in Science Advances, and was highlighted in Science and Nature.
For practical in vivo drug delivery application of the micro/nanorobots, deep tissue imaging and motion control is another major challenge. To address this issue, Zhiguang Wu, again for the first time, developed a microrobotic system guided by photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT) for targeted investigation in intestines in vivo. In his view, getting micro-nano robots to overcome biological barriers and perform real-time imaging is significant for the researches in this field. The work is published in Science Robotics, but still subsequent deeper research is needed for technological transformation.
For the purpose of promoting magnetically driven micro-nano robots, Zhiguang Wu said that he is working with his group to develop an exogenous alternating rotating magnetic field device to drive micro-nano robots and provide equipment and technical assistance for researchers.