The joint paper, “Spontaneous symmetry breaking propulsion of chemically encapsulated magnetic microparticles” is published in Scientific reports.
The study concluded that designing specialized surface coatings to generate specific propellant properties will provide new avenues for drug delivery strategies. The ability to navigate microparticles at speed will support the deployment of drugs when speed of delivery is critical to patient recovery. In addition, the ability to precisely navigate these tiny “swimming” molecules would allow them to travel through complex fluid and tissue environments to target locations in the human body.
“Thanks to the SMU partnership, we will continue to push the boundaries of microrobotics research and look forward to sharing our continued work with the scientific community,” said Louis William Rogowski, ARA’s Senior Investigator in Microrobotics. We are honored to publish our joint research in Scientific Reports.
Rogowski, Kim, and their team members were able to demonstrate that altering the surface chemistry of microparticles can dynamically alter propulsion behavior.
“We are excited to see the feasibility of chemically encapsulated magnetic microparticles for precise navigation in bodily fluid environments,” said Kim, the Robert C. Womack chair in SMU’s Lyle College of Engineering and principal investigator in the BAST lab. “We will continue to work together to develop a new type of micro-robot for targeted drug delivery systems.”
In this study, biotin, Biotin-PEG3-amine and biotin chitosan were chemically applied to the surface of microparticles. The coated microparticles were then suspended in mucus synthesized from porcine gastric mucus (glycoproteins found in mucus) and navigated using rotating magnetic fields using a spontaneous symmetry-breaking push mechanism. Surface coatings altered the propelling behavior of the microparticles, depending on both magnetic field properties and localized mucus properties.
The researchers say the next steps include coating the microparticles with an actual pharmaceutical compound and measuring uptake within living environments using “swarms” of microparticles, or examining the interactions of cellular membranes. Designing specialized surface coatings to generate specific propellant properties will also provide new avenues for drug delivery strategies. The authors hope that the study will increase interest in microparticle-based propulsion mechanisms and help provide novel innovations for targeted drug delivery applications.
Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) was founded in 1979, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to advance scientific and engineering research to solve problems of national importance. ARA provides leading products and solutions for national defense, energy, homeland security, aviation, healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing. With more than 1,500 employee owners at locations in the United States and Canada, ARA offers a broad range of technical expertise in defense technologies, civil engineering, computer software and simulation, systems analysis, biomedical engineering, environmental technologies, and blast testing and measurement.
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About the Lyle School of Engineering
SMU Lyle School of Engineering, founded in 1925, is one of the oldest engineering schools in the Southwest. The school offers eight undergraduate and 29 graduate programs, including master’s and doctoral degrees, through its civil and environmental engineering departments; computer science; electrical and computer engineering; engineering management, information and systems; and mechanical engineering.