Research ArticleMICROROBOTS

Elucidating the interaction dynamics between microswimmer body and immune system for medical microrobots

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Science Robotics  17 Jun 2020:
Vol. 5, Issue 43, eaaz3867
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aaz3867

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Abstract

The structural design parameters of a medical microrobot, such as the morphology and surface chemistry, should aim to minimize any physical interactions with the cells of the immune system. However, the same surface-borne design parameters are also critical for the locomotion performance of the microrobots. Understanding the interplay of such parameters targeting high locomotion performance and low immunogenicity at the same time is of paramount importance yet has so far been overlooked. Here, we investigated the interactions of magnetically steerable double-helical microswimmers with mouse macrophage cell lines and splenocytes, freshly harvested from mouse spleens, by systematically changing their helical morphology. We found that the macrophages and splenocytes can recognize and differentially elicit an immune response to helix turn numbers of the microswimmers that otherwise have the same size, bulk physical properties, and surface chemistries. Our findings suggest that the structural optimization of medical microrobots for the locomotion performance and interactions with the immune cells should be considered simultaneously because they are highly entangled and can demand a substantial design compromise from one another. Furthermore, we show that morphology-dependent interactions between macrophages and microswimmers can further present engineering opportunities for biohybrid microrobot designs. We demonstrate immunobots that can combine the steerable mobility of synthetic microswimmers and the immunoregulatory capability of macrophages for potential targeted immunotherapeutic applications.

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