Breakthrough! Recent research from the LMA

October 14, 2011
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Robot surger

Tiny robots traveling inside the human body to perform surgery are a step closer to reality thanks to recent work by engineers at Children’s Hospital Boston.

They built a small robot out of toy Legos, equipped with a medical biopsy needle, and powered it with the magnetic field from an MRI machine normally used to scan body tissues. It is the first time anyone has powered a motor with an MRI machine.

“Our ultimate goal is to create magnetically powered robots that can either travel through the body to perform highly targeted therapies or reside inside the body as adjustable prosthetic devices,” said Dr. Pierre Dupont, chief of pediatric cardiac bioengineering at Children’s.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) provided the MRI for the research. Dupont and fellow researchers Dr. Panagiotis Vartholomeos of Children’s and Dr. Lei Qin of BWH presented their research last month at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in California.

Settling Asia

Ancient humans settled Southeast Asia in at least two waves of migration, not just one, according to DNA studies by researchers at Harvard Medical School and other institutions.

Researchers were able to trace the genetic history of ancient humans known as Denisovans back more than 44,000 years by extracting DNA from a fossil fingerbone, then tracking the same DNA in modern humans. Denisovans shared a common ancestor with modern humans and, the study found, interbred with them.

By following this complex genetic story, researchers found that Southeast Asia was originally settled by people who had a different genetic background from today’s Chinese and Indonesians. The modern inhabitants of Asia came in another, later migration or migrations.

The research was reported last month in the “American Journal of Human Genetics.”

From Press Materials

 

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