A microscopic wire called a "catheter" is inserted into a blood vessel.
When a substance that can block blood vessels is put into the catheter, the flow of blood and supply of nutrients is cut off.
This technique is called "embolization" and is used to prevent the growth of tumors.
When treating cancer, a chemotherapy drug is sometimes injected into blood vessels before they are blocked.
But the problem with embolization is that it may be difficult to insert chemotherapy drugs or embolic agents into the veins if they're very small.
There's also the risk of the drugs flowing backwards.
A South Korean research team has suggested solving this problem by implementing something called "medical micro robotic technology."
First, anticancer drugs are attached to magnetic nanoparticles before being injected into blood vessels.
Then, a magnetic field is applied, making it possible to steer and control the nanoparticles precisely in the direction of the tumor.
Using a magnetic field to fix embolic agents in place also decreases the risk of backflow.
"The technology targets the liver wall precisely by using embolic agents supplied, an electromagnetic field device that can move those agents, and navigation information from X-rays."
The researchers' primary goal is to develop hepatic artery chemoembolization to treat liver cancer.
It is currently the most widely used technique to treat liver cancer, and is expected to reach a global market of 2.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2026.
Our goal is to significantly increase efficiency by implementing advanced technology such as medical microrobots on existing procedures."
The same researchers claim to have demonstrated the technology's feasibility by carrying out experiments on animals.
They plan to develop a prototype that can be used on humans over the next five years, and then verify its safety and effectiveness through actual clinical practice for another two years.
Jeong Eun-joo, Arirang News.