Fantastic Voyage: from science fiction to reality?
Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal researchers successfully control and
navigate a wireless device inside an artery using a clinical magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI) system, paving the way for novel, minimally
invasive and more accurate surgeries
MONTREAL, March 16 /CNW Telbec/ - Some 40 years after the release of the
classic science fiction movie Fantastic Voyage, researchers in the
NanoRobotics Laboratory of Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal's Department of
Computer Engineering and Institute of Biomedical Engineering have achieved a
major technological breakthrough in the field of medical robotics. They have
succeeded for the first time in guiding, in vivo and via computer control, a
microdevice inside an artery, at a speed of 10 centimetres a second.
Under the direction of Professor Sylvain Martel, holder of the Canada
Research Chair in Micro/Nanosystem Development, Construction and Validation,
and in collaboration with researchers at the Centre hospitalier de
l'Université de Montréal (CHUM), the Polytechnique team has succeeded in
injecting, propelling and controlling by means of software programs an initial
prototype of an untethered device (a ferromagnetic 1.5- millimetre-diameter
sphere) within the carotid artery of a living animal placed inside a clinical
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system.
Encouraged by these results, staff at the Polytechnique NanoRobotics
Laboratory are currently working to further reduce the size of the devices so
that, within a few years, they can navigate inside smaller blood vessels.
"Injection and control of nanorobots inside the human body, which
contains nearly 100,000 kilometres of blood vessels, is a promising avenue
that could enable interventional medicine to target sites that so far have
remained inaccessible using modern medical instruments such as catheters,"
Professor Martel explained. "In collaboration with our scientific partners,
Polytechnique researchers have begun developing several types of micro- and
nanodevices for novel applications, such as targeted delivery of medications
to tumour sites and diagnoses using navigable bio-sensors."
The results of this scientific breakthrough were published by Professor
Martel and 10 co-authors from Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal and the CHUM on
March 14 in the scientific journal Applied Physics Letters.
Patent applications have been submitted for this method of real-time
monitoring and guidance of devices for minimally invasive surgeries using MRI.
Commercialization of the technology has been entrusted to Gestion Univalor,
About Ecole Polytechnique
Founded in 1873, Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal is one of Canada's
leading engineering institutions in terms of both teaching and research. It is
the largest engineering school in Québec as far as its student population and
the scope of its research activities are concerned. Ecole Polytechnique
provides instruction in 11 engineering specialties and is responsible for more
than one-quarter of university research in engineering in Québec. The school
has 230 professors and nearly 6,000 students. Its operating budget is $85
million, in addition to a $68-million research and infrastructure fund, which
includes grants and contracts worth $38 million. Polytechnique is affiliated
with Université de Montréal.
NanoRobotics Laboratory: www.nano.polymtl.ca
Photographs of Professor Martel and videoclips are available for download
For further information:
For further information: Annie Touchette, Communications and Recruitment
Office, Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal, (514) 340-4711 extension 4415,