Inspired by Nature
A new robotic system designed to conduct very precise brain surgery is being developed using a bendable robotic needle based on a wood-boring wasp needle.
The system is intended to be used to deliver medicine and drain fluid by inserting a thin, hollow needle into the brain. The flexible nature of the device lends itself to its ability to curve and ensure the accurate placement of the needle and ability to get to hard-to-reach places in deep tissue.
Researchers behind the study have received a 8.3 million pound grant from the European Union to lead further studies on the development of more robotic tools that use the needle and explore other practical applications for neurosurgery.
Dubbed EDEN2020, the project is now a European-wide initiative that could see the the development of a pre-commercial system beginning clinical trials towards the end of 2020.
Initially designed to deliver medicine to tumors in the brain, the researchers are optimistic about the system being applied to various other medical procedures such as brachytherapy, laser ablation, and deep brain stimulation.
In the press release, Professor Lorenzo Bello, from the University of Milan who will head the clinical team in charge of deploying the system in a clinical setting, outlines the potential uses of the device: "The system could potentially have a significant impact in oncology and in the field of neurodegenerative diseases. It offers an innovative mode of administration of therapeutic agents through the combination of flexible needles and intraoperative imaging systems, which could improve the way clinical diseases are managed."