Drug-carrying microbot roams through eye

London: A new system that effectively delivers drugs to the eyes, using a microbot, could offer hope to thousands of patients who suffer from conditions like age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in old people.

The most common treatment used for macular degeneration is a drug injection into the eye. Since the drug quickly diffuses through the retina, regular injections to keep reaching the affected regions are required.

Michael Kummer and colleagues from the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems (IRIS) in Zurich, Switzerland, injected a microbot in a deceased pig``s eye with a needle and then maneuvered with a novel electromagnetic system, reports New Scientist.

“The micro-devices can be thought of as magnetic drug reservoirs that can be electro-magnetically controlled to the location of interest on the retina,” says Christos Bergeles, a member of the team.

Since the robot can remain in the eye for months, it would allow for prolonged and targeted drug release.

It can also be used to position a biodegradable drug capsule in the eye and then be directly removed with a magnetic needle.

The researchers plan to start trials with living animals soon.