BALTIMORE, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they've developed tiny tools that could be introduced into the human body for medical procedures and drug delivery.
The millimeter-sized metal tools that can change shape on command, clamping shut or popping open in response to specific chemical cues, may someday be used to biopsy a liver, open a clogged artery or deliver drugs to a specific target, ScienceNews.org reported Friday.
David Gracias and a team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have created devices that can respond to chemicals in the right time and place, yet still be friendly inside the body.
The tiny metal devices made with chromium, nickel and gold are assembled with parts that look the petals of a flower or the open palm of a hand.
In the presence of enzymes within the body, the devices can be prompted to spring shut or pop open.
To test their clampers the team made some fake innards from resin and embedded some hard-to-reach bird liver tissue inside.
Using a magnet, they moved the clampers through the simulated bile duct and into the liver, then added a human enzyme, cellulase, with a syringe.
The gripper closed around the bit of bird tissue, then the team guided the grippers back out with a magnet, having performed a rough version of a biopsy.