|28 February 2017|

London

Scientists in the UK have won funding to develop micro-robotics which could be used to detect and treat different types of cancer.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has announced it will provide over $8 million to the Micro-robotics for Surgery project, being led by Imperial College London.

Researchers based at Imperial’s Hamlyn Centre (HC) – which strives to transform the future of healthcare through technological innovation – will spearhead the five-year initiative.

Entering the body “through tiny cavities” the medical robots could help advance treatments in the fight against cancer.

Professor Guang-Zhong Yang, Director of the Hamlyn Centre at Imperial College London and lead on the project, told Imperial College News: “We believe the new fibre-bot has great potential. One example of a disease where we think it could prove useful is in ductal carcinoma, an early stage of breast cancer that often begins in the milk ducts. In theory, a flexible robot of this size would be able to travel inside the milk duct, map the extent of the disease, and enable reliable and repeatable treatments at the microscopic level to be administered by surgeons. This could minimise the trauma on patients and improve how they recover.

“Another example of where you might use fibre-bot is in cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, where it could travel to the small ductal systems in regions of the body such as the pancreas, which are not currently easy to access non-invasively, to diagnose and treat the cancer at a much earlier stage.”