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Robo-scallop to carry drugs through the body

Darren Murph

Sometimes swallowing a pill or getting stuck with a needle isn't the most efficient way of attacking an internal problem, at least according to a team of physicists at the Netherlands' University of Twente. Their latest project involves a microscopic tube -- just a few millimeters long and 750 microns in diameter -- dubbed the robo-scallop, built to propel itself through the human bloodstream with the help of soundwaves. This body-surfer of sorts has a bubble of air on one end that expands and contracts by way of vibrations from direct external physical contact between the patient's skin and a loudspeaker, causing the transporter to be propelled through an ocean of platelets and delivering medicines in hard-to-reach spots. Challenges that remain are improving the robo-scallop's speed without, um, deafening the patient, and decreasing its size even further to get access to the tiniest of gateways. Although the device lacks an estimated completion date, the robo-scallop may provide relief to those who find alternate methods of drug administration a tad hard to swallow, or, well, you know.

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