Research ArticleMICROROBOTS

Enzyme-powered Janus platelet cell robots for active and targeted drug delivery

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Science Robotics  10 Jun 2020:
Vol. 5, Issue 43, eaba6137
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aba6137

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Abstract

Transforming natural cells into functional biocompatible robots capable of active movement is expected to enhance the functions of the cells and revolutionize the development of synthetic micromotors. However, present cell-based micromotor systems commonly require the propulsion capabilities of rigid motors, external fields, or harsh conditions, which may compromise biocompatibility and require complex actuation equipment. Here, we report on an endogenous enzyme-powered Janus platelet micromotor (JPL-motor) system prepared by immobilizing urease asymmetrically onto the surface of natural platelet cells. This Janus distribution of urease on platelet cells enables uneven decomposition of urea in biofluids to generate enhanced chemophoretic motion. The cell surface engineering with urease has negligible impact on the functional surface proteins of platelets, and hence, the resulting JPL-motors preserve the intrinsic biofunctionalities of platelets, including effective targeting of cancer cells and bacteria. The efficient propulsion of JPL-motors in the presence of the urea fuel greatly enhances their binding efficiency with these biological targets and improves their therapeutic efficacy when loaded with model anticancer or antibiotic drugs. Overall, asymmetric enzyme immobilization on the platelet surface leads to a biogenic microrobotic system capable of autonomous movement using biological fuel. The ability to impart self-propulsion onto biological cells, such as platelets, and to load these cellular robots with a variety of functional components holds considerable promise for developing multifunctional cell-based micromotors for a variety of biomedical applications.

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