By exploring the inner world of cells, a new micro-antenna can see the development of disease from a cellular perspective | GeneOnline News

The application and development of micro-robots in the medical field continues to keep up with the times. In “Nature-Communication” (Nature Communication) in the latest paper in the journal,MITA team (MIT) has shown for the first time a small antenna that can operate wirelessly inside living cells. As cells are the foundation of biological systems, the team believe that acquiring information at the cellular level will provide new insights into the basic biology and treatment of diseases.

A new development in synthetic biology with the help of bacteria to assemble artificial cells! (International Edition of Genetics Online)

A small antenna that can operate wirelessly inside living cells

The size of general bioelectronic interfaces is usually between a few millimeters and a few centimeters. Considering that even changing one cell can affect the whole organism, the application in the human body is not only very invasive, but also not provide the necessary wireless interaction with a single cell, resolution.

In contrast, the new Cell Rover micro-antenna developed by the MIT team is much smaller than cells, with a size of only sub-mm (sub-mm). In the team’s research on oocyte cells, Cell Rover It is occupying less than 0.05 % of the cell volume, well below the amount that would affect or damage cells.

The Cell Rover’s expertise doesn’t stop there. By using magnetostrictive materials, the Cell Rover can be driven acoustically by an AC magnetic field, operating in resonance at low MHz frequencies without producing adverse thermal effects on living organisms. The research team even developed a protocol that uses a non-uniform magnetic field to guide the Cell Rover into cells.

Instead of destroying cells to examine the cytoplasm in the past, Cell Rover can monitor cell development or division inside the cell, detect different chemicals and biomolecules or physical changes, operate wirelessly in living cells and compatible with 3D biological systems and capabilities, giving the Cell Rover the potential to monitor and even guide cellular activity in real time.

Cell Rover monitors changes without destroying cells

From a research perspective, even within a single cell, it is feasible to use multiple Cell Rovers to communicate with each other or with extracellular communication. The researchers believe that with such capabilities, Cell Rovers could be valuable in cancer and neurodegenerative disease research. Scientists can monitor biochemical and electrical changes in single cells to observe the progression of diseases associated with them, or to discover new drugs through the response of living cells to different drugs.

Materials such as polymers, which undergo mass or stress changes such as chemical or biomolecular changes, scientists believe can use polymer materials already used in medical and other research to integrate with Cell Rover applications to gain new insights not available of current observational techniques involving cell destruction.

MIT Dean Anantha P. Chandrakasan said, Cell Rover is an innovative concept because it can incorporate intelligent sensing and communication technology into living cells, bringing unprecedented opportunities for highly accurate diagnosis, treatment and new drug development, as well as cross-border biological collaboration with IT technology creates new directions.

Extended reading: Micro-robots are being deployed, or becoming a new tool for treating bacterial pneumonia!


  1. Nature Communications, 2022,

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