Katherine Bourzac

A View from Katherine Bourzac

A Helping Microhand for Surgeons

A microscopic gripper captures tissue when triggered by biochemical cues or temperature change.

  • January 12, 2009

A remote-controlled microgripping “hand” could help give surgeons greater control during minimally invasive surgeries such as biopsies. In a story last August, frequent TR freelancer Prachi Patel-Predd described how the tiny hand works. Now the Johns Hopkins University researchers developing the microgripper have published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences updating their work and including some neat video footage (see below). In the clip, the researchers use magnets to navigate a gripper through a coiled tube and to guide it toward a dyed bead and a cell mass. The grippers can close like a fist around an object in response to biochemical cues; in the future, they could even respond to biomolecules characteristic of cancer cells. The microhand in these videos grips the blue bead and the cell mass in response to an increase in temperature.

A fluorescent micrograph of viable cells captured using a biochemical trigger to actuate the gripper. Courtesy of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.