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Microgrippers

November 25, 2016

Tiny, untethered microgrippers could track down and retrieve hard-to-reach tissue samples.

Transcript

A microgripper near the opening of an endoscopic catheter. Evin Gultepe, Gracias Lab, Johns Hopkins University

(A microgripper near the opening of an endoscopic catheter. (Evin Gultepe, Gracias Lab/Johns Hopkins University)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Grabby little hands. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A star-shaped little hand the size of a dust speck could one day travel through our bodies and grab a single tumor cell for a biopsy. The little grippers are the brainchild of Johns Hopkins biomolecular engineer David Gracias and his team.

DAVID GRACIAS (University of Illinois):

And these are made using the same processes used to make microchips, and they have tiny finger-like digits, we have shown that we can actually biopsy cells in the gastrointestinal tract of live animals.

HIRSHON:

Gracias described the technology at the AVS conference in Nashville. He says traditional biopsies can sample only a few areas of tissue, and can’t access some parts of the body. But microgrippers could be deployed anywhere by the hundreds to get many samples, giving them a better chance of making an accurate diagnosis. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon