July 9, 2009 A Tiny Robot Invented to Crawl Through Your Veins

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news_id92Scientists at  Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology have created a tiny robot able to crawl through a person’s veins in order to diagnose and potentially treat artery blockage and cancer. The world’s smallest robot, with a diameter of one millimetre, it is powered by an external magnetic field allowing it to be controlled for an unlimited amount of time during medical procedures.

Oded Salomon, a research engineer in the Technion Faculty of Mechanical Engineering’s Kahn Medical Robotics Laboratory, conceived the tiny robot together with Prof. Moshe Shoham and Dr Nir Schwalb, Technion alum of the lab and now a lecturer at the  Ariel  University  Center. Their miniature “submarine” can negotiate the inner walls of blood vessels using tiny arms which will allow it to withstand blood pressure. The robot is powered by an external magnetic field allowing it to be controlled for an unlimited amount of time during medical procedures.

Known as the ViRob, it is an autonomous crawling micro-robot with possible medical applications in:

Neurosurgery – possible treatment of post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus in preterm infants.

Brachytherapy – a relatively new approach of providing anti-cancer therapy directly to the afflicted region. ViRob may help administer radiotherapy or chemotherapy, directly to the lung or to the prostate.

Imaging – a camera attached to ViRob can travel inside the spinal canal, ureters or bronchi to a given point, and may produce video images for diagnosis.

However, Prof.Shoham explains that a final product will not be ready for several years. A small enough camera needs to be developed, and an actuation device that will steer the robot once inside the body needs to be perfected. Animal trials are being performed, but human trials are about two years away.

July 5, 2009 A Drug to Treat Heart Disease is Developed at CardiAmit, the first company established by the Alfred Mann Institute at Technion

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The Alfred Mann Institute for Biomedical Development at the Technion (AMIT) has established its first company – CardiAmit, which is developing a new drug to protect the heart muscle.

The drug is based on a new cardioprotective molecule that has the ability to protect heart cells against damage and death resulting from ischemia – for example, damage caused by heart attacks. The potential world market for this drug is estimated to be billions of dollars annually.

The development of the molecule as a drug protecting heart muscle started in 2004 and was carried out by Prof. Ofer Binah, Prof. Moussa Youdim (who together with Prof. John Finberg developed Teva’s drug for treating Parkinson’s disease), Prof. Zaid Abassi and Dr. Yaron Barac, all of whom are from the Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. Two years ago, the project joined the Alfred Mann Institute at the Technion and since then, has progressed significantly.

The drug’s efficacy was demonstrated in a number of animal models, among them models that simulate heart attacks with or without catheterization, cardiac congestion heart failure and cardiac damage caused by chemotherapy. In all the models that were tested, the molecule demonstrated impressive results and decreased the cardiac damage by tens of percentages. In safety tests carried out in the Technion’s Faculty of Medicine and in other labs and institutes in Israel and abroad, specializing in such tests, no side effects or damages were observed.