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Tiny robot operates inside your eye

Monday, April 11, 2011 - 01:46

Apr 11 - Researchers in Switzerland are perfecting a robot small enough to be injected into your eye without anesthetic. The team says their device could carry drugs to the exact position they are needed or even carry out minor operations. Stuart McDill reports.

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Picking up a robot in a syringe. This tiny device is small enough to be injected into the eye without anaesthetic - and could be how eye surgery is performed in the future according to its developers. The team, at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, say the size of their robots could herald a new type of non-invasive surgery. Professor of robotics and intelligent systems at ETH is Brad Nelson. (SOUNDBITE)(English) PROFESSOR BRAD NELSON, ETH ZURICH SAYING: "Our first applications are in targeted delivery, treating diseases like age-related macular degeneration or retinal vein occlusions in which we try to deliver drugs to specific locations on the retina." The device is essentially a tiny magnet which is controlled by an electro-magnetic field outside the eye. (SOUNDBITE)(English) PROFESSOR BRAD NELSON, ETH ZURICH SAYING: "It requires that we very precisely control the fields and the currents through our electro-magnets and being able to do that and do that in a stable, controlled fashion has been a challenge - something we've been able to over-come here in the last couple of years." So far, the research has used the synthetic eyes or the eyes of dead animals, this is the eye of dead pig -- but they do have plans to move onto living animal trials, followed by human trials. (SOUNDBITE)(English) PROFESSOR BRAD NELSON, ETH ZURICH SAYING: "If we can make it small enough to fit in a 23 gauge needle it can actually be injected into the eye with just topical anaesthetic or even no anaesthetic and it doesn't also require a suture" In 1966, the science-fiction film Fantastic Voyage saw a submarine miniaturised and injected into a vein - 45 years on, it sounds less far-fetched. Stuart McDill, Reuters, Zurich.

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Tiny robot operates inside your eye

Monday, April 11, 2011 - 01:46