PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
FREE PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION

Wielding a laser beam deep inside the body

A microrobotic opto-electro-mechanical device able to steer a laser beam with high speed and a large range of motion could enhance the possibilities of minimally invasive surgeries

Wielding a laser beam deep inside the body
2021-01-13
(Press-News.org) (Boston) -- Minimally invasive surgeries in which surgeons gain access to internal tissues through natural orifices or small external excisions are common practice in medicine. They are performed for problems as diverse as delivering stents through catheters, treating abdominal complications, and performing transnasal operations at the skull base in patients with neurological conditions.

The ends of devices for such surgeries are highly flexible (or "articulated") to enable the visualization and specific manipulation of the surgical site in the target tissue. In the case of energy-delivering devices that allow surgeons to cut or dry (desiccate) tissues, and stop internal bleeds (coagulate) deep inside the body, a heat-generating energy source is added to the end of the device. However, presently available energy sources delivered via a fiber or electrode, such as radio frequency currents, have to be brought close to the target site, which limits surgical precision and can cause unwanted burns in adjacent tissue sections and smoke development.

Laser technology, which already is widely used in a number of external surgeries, such as those performed in the eye or skin, would be an attractive solution. For internal surgeries, the laser beam needs to be precisely steered, positioned and quickly repositioned at the distal end of an endoscope, which cannot be accomplished with the currently available relatively bulky technology.

Now, robotic engineers led by Wyss Associate Faculty member Robert Wood, Ph.D., and postdoctoral fellow Peter York, Ph.D., at Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and John A. Paulson School for Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) have developed a laser-steering microrobot in a miniaturized 6x16 millimeter package that operates with high speed and precision, and can be integrated with existing endoscopic tools. Their approach, reported in Science Robotics, could help significantly enhance the capabilities of numerous minimally invasive surgeries.

"To enable minimally invasive laser surgery inside the body, we devised a microrobotic approach that allows us to precisely direct a laser beam at small target sites in complex patterns within an anatomical area of interest," said York, the first and corresponding author on the study and a postdoctoral fellow on Wood's microrobotics team. "With its large range of articulation, minimal footprint, and fast and precise action, this laser-steering end-effector has great potential to enhance surgical capabilities simply by being added to existing endoscopic devices in a plug-and-play fashion."

The team needed to overcome the basic challenges in design, actuation, and microfabrication of the optical steering mechanism that enables tight control over the laser beam after it has exited from an optical fiber. These challenges, along with the need for speed and precision, were exacerbated by the size constraints - the entire mechanism had to be housed in a cylindrical structure with roughly the diameter of a drinking straw to be useful for endoscopic procedures.

"We found that for steering and re-directing the laser beam, a configuration of three small mirrors that can rapidly rotate with respect to one another in a small 'galvanometer' design provided a sweet spot for our miniaturization effort," said second author Rut Peña, a mechanical engineer with micro-manufacturing expertise in Wood's group. "To get there, we leveraged methods from our microfabrication arsenal in which modular components are laminated step-wise onto a superstructure on the millimeter scale - a highly effective fabrication process when it comes to iterating on designs quickly in search of an optimum, and delivering a robust strategy for mass-manufacturing a successful product."

The team demonstrated that their laser-steering end-effector, miniaturized to a cylinder measuring merely 6 mm in diameter and 16 mm in length, was able to map out and follow complex trajectories in which multiple laser ablations could be performed with high speed, over a large range, and be repeated with high accuracy.

To further show that the device, when attached to the end of a common colonoscope, could be applied to a life-like endoscopic task, York and Peña, advised by Wyss Clinical Fellow Daniel Kent, M.D., successfully simulated the resection of polyps by navigating their device via tele-operation in a benchtop phantom tissue made of rubber. Kent also is a resident physician in general surgery at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

"In this multi-disciplinary approach, we managed to harness our ability to rapidly prototype complex microrobotic mechanisms that we have developed over the past decade to provide clinicians with a non-disruptive solution that could allow them to advance the possibilities of minimally invasive surgeries in the human body with life-altering or potentially life-saving impact," said senior author Wood, Ph.D., who also is the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at SEAS.

Wood's microrobotics team together with technology translation experts at the Wyss Institute have patented their approach and are now further de-risking their medical technology (MedTech) as an add-on for surgical endoscopes.

"The Wyss Institute's focus on microrobotic devices and this new laser-steering device developed by Robert Wood's team working across disciplines with clinicians and experts in translation will hopefully revolutionize how minimally invasive surgical procedures are carried out in a number of disease areas," said Wyss Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital, and Professor of Bioengineering at SEAS.

INFORMATION:

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation under award #CMMI-1830291, and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

PRESS CONTACT

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University Benjamin Boettner, benjamin.boettner@wyss.harvard.edu, +1 617-432-8232

MULTIMEDIA AVAILABLE

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University uses Nature's design principles to develop bioinspired materials and devices that will transform medicine and create a more sustainable world. Wyss researchers are developing innovative new engineering solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics, and manufacturing that are translated into commercial products and therapies through collaborations with clinical investigators, corporate alliances, and formation of new startups. The Wyss Institute creates transformative technological breakthroughs by engaging in high risk research, and crosses disciplinary and institutional barriers, working as an alliance that includes Harvard's Schools of Medicine, Engineering, Arts & Sciences and Design, and in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston University, Tufts University, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, University of Zurich and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences serves as the connector and integrator of Harvard's teaching and research efforts in engineering, applied sciences, and technology. Through collaboration with researchers from all parts of Harvard, other universities, and corporate and foundational partners, we bring discovery and innovation directly to bear on improving human life and society.


[Attachments] See images for this press release:
Wielding a laser beam deep inside the body

ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

Earth to reach temperature tipping point in next 20 to 30 years, new NAU study finds

Earth to reach temperature tipping point in next 20 to 30 years, new NAU study finds
2021-01-13
Earth's ability to absorb nearly a third of human-caused carbon emissions through plants could be halved within the next two decades at the current rate of warming, according to a new study in Science Advances by researchers at Northern Arizona University, the Woodwell Climate Research Center and the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Using more than two decades of data from measurement towers in every major biome across the globe, the team identified a critical temperature tipping point beyond which plants' ability to capture and store atmospheric carbon--a cumulative effect referred to as the "land carbon sink"--decreases as temperatures continue to rise. The terrestrial biosphere--the activity of land plants and soil microbes--does much of Earth's "breathing," exchanging ...

Taking the lab into the ocean: A fleet of robots tracks and monitors microbial communities

2021-01-13
Researchers from MBARI, the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (UH Mānoa), and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, after years of development and testing, have successfully demonstrated that a fleet of autonomous robots can track and study a moving microbial community in an open-ocean eddy. The results of this research effort were recently published in Science Robotics. Autonomous robotic fleets enable researchers to observe complex systems in ways that are otherwise impossible with purely ship-based or remote sensing techniques. In a time when the COVID-19 ...

Earth's terrestrial ecosystems may transition from carbon sinks to carbon sources within decades

2021-01-13
Rising temperatures could trigger Earth's terrestrial ecosystems to transition from carbon sinks to carbon sources in the next 20 to 30 years, according to data from the world's largest continuous carbon monitoring network. The researchers suggest that up to half of land ecosystems could reach this tipping point - when plants begin to release carbon into the atmosphere faster than they sequester it - by 2100 under a business-as-usual emissions scenario. However, biomes that store the most carbon, including rainforests and Taiga forests, may lose more than 45% of their ...

How does your computer smell?

2021-01-13
A keen sense of smell is a powerful ability shared by many organisms. However, it has proven difficult to replicate by artificial means. Researchers combined biological and engineered elements to create what is known as a biohybrid component. Their volatile organic compound sensor can effectively detect odors in gaseous form. They hope to refine the concept for use in medical diagnosis and the detection of hazardous materials. Electronic devices such as cameras, microphones and pressure sensors enable machines to sense and quantify their environments optically, acoustically and physically. Our sense of smell however, despite being one of nature's most primal senses, has proven very difficult ...

Scientists modeled protein behavior of archaeal viruses to crack protein folding mystery

Scientists modeled protein behavior of archaeal viruses to crack protein folding mystery
2021-01-13
Scientists from the Pacific Quantum Center of Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) figured out how the AFV3-109 protein with slipknot structure folds and unfolds depending on temperature. The protein is typical for the viruses of the oldest single-celled organisms that can survive in the extreme conditions of underwater volcanic sources - archaea. The research outcome appears in PLOS ONE. Using numerical methods and applying quantum field theory that is unique for the study of proteins, the FEFU scientists have probed into the folding topology (scheme) ...

'Ocean 100': Small group of companies dominates ocean economy

2021-01-13
DURHAM, N.C. - Most of the revenues extracted from use of the world's oceans is concentrated among 100 transnational corporations, which have been identified for the first time by researchers at Duke University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University. Dubbed the "Ocean 100," these "ocean economy" companies collectively generated $1.1 trillion in revenues in 2018, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. If the group were a country, it would have the world's 16th-largest economy, roughly equivalent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Mexico. "Now that we know who some of the biggest beneficiaries from the ocean economy are, this can help improve transparency relating to sustainability and ocean ...

Robotic swarm swims like a school of fish

Robotic swarm swims like a school of fish
2021-01-13
Schools of fish exhibit complex, synchronized behaviors that help them find food, migrate and evade predators. No one fish or team of fish coordinates these movements nor do fish communicate with each other about what to do next. Rather, these collective behaviors emerge from so-called implicit coordination -- individual fish making decisions based on what they see their neighbors doing. This type of decentralized, autonomous self-organization and coordination has long fascinated scientists, especially in the field of robotics. Now, a team of researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and ...

Researchers identify nanoparticles that could deliver therapeutic mRNA before birth

Researchers identify nanoparticles that could deliver therapeutic mRNA before birth
2021-01-13
Philadelphia, January 13, 2021--Researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania have identified ionizable lipid nanoparticles that could be used to deliver mRNA as part of fetal therapy. The proof-of-concept study, published today in Science Advances, engineered and screened a number of lipid nanoparticle formulations for targeting mouse fetal organs and has laid the groundwork for testing potential therapies to treat genetic diseases before birth. "This is an important first step in identifying nonviral mediated approaches for delivering cutting-edge therapies before birth," said co-senior author William H. Peranteau, MD, an attending surgeon in the Division of ...

New insights into the control of inflammation

New insights into the control of inflammation
2021-01-13
PHILADELPHIA -- (Jan. 13, 2021) -- Scientists at The Wistar Institute discovered that Early Growth Response 1 (EGR1), a protein that turns on and off specific genes during blood cell development, inhibits expression of pro-inflammatory genes in macrophages. As part of their function to protect the body against pathogens, macrophages play a major role in initiation, maintenance, and resolution of inflammation. The discovery expands the understanding of how macrophages are set off and deactivated in the inflammatory process, which is critical in many normal and pathological conditions. These findings were published online in the journal Science Advances. "By deepening the understanding of the role of EGR1, we ...

COVID-19 vaccine creates incentive to improve our health

2021-01-13
COLUMBUS, Ohio - While we wait for our turn to get vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, we could - and probably should - use the time to make sure we bring our healthiest emotional and physical selves to the treatment, a new review of previous research suggests. Ohio State University researchers reviewed 49 vaccine studies in humans dating back 30 years that document how stress, depression and poor health behaviors can negatively affect the body's immune response to vaccination, and how improving health factors can enhance that response. The impaired immune responses tended to fall into three categories - interference with the ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

Young white-tailed deer that disperse survive the same as those that stay home

Research pinpoints unique drug target in antibiotic resistant bacteria

'Pompeii of prehistoric plants' unlocks evolutionary secret -- study

Time needed to sequence key molecules could be reduced from years to minutes

Legume trees key to supporting tropical forest growth

Premature birth disrupts Purkinje cell function, resulting in locomotor learning deficits

Adult life expectancy falling for those without a college degree

Tracing malaria's ecology using blood samples from birds

BU researchers identify basic mechanisms that regulate HIV expression

Aging-US: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy impact on telomere length & immunosenescence

Cheap, nontoxic carbon nanodots poised to be quantum dots of the future

Water temperature key to schistosomiasis risk and prevention strategies

Lights on for silicon photonics

How fast is the universe expanding? Galaxies provide one answer.

Greater tobacco use linked to higher levels of inflammation in HIV-positive people

Northern Hemisphere summers may last nearly half the year by 2100

Study finds racial disparities in COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes

Complement inhibition reverses mental losses in preclinical traumatic brain injury models

Membrane around tumors may be key to preventing metastasis

A plant's place in history can predict susceptibility to pathogens

Are higher obesity rates in minority groups a product of systemic racism?

Hypertension disorders of pregnancy increase risk of premature maternal mortality

Why odors trigger powerful memories

New technique brings the study of molecular configuration into the microscopic domain

Speeding treatment for urinary tract infections in children

Financial pollution in the US health system

Understanding the resilience of barrier islands and coastal dunes after storms

A better way to measure acceleration

Brain activity foreshadows changes in stock prices

New discovery explains antihypertensive properties of green and black tea

[Press-News.org] Wielding a laser beam deep inside the body
A microrobotic opto-electro-mechanical device able to steer a laser beam with high speed and a large range of motion could enhance the possibilities of minimally invasive surgeries