Minuscule device could be used to transport drugs and other treatments
Scientists have developed a minuscule 'submarine' that could be used to deliver drugs and other treatments to exactly where they are needed in the body.
The technology is a little like the idea portrayed in the 1966 Raquel Welch film Fantastic Voyage, where doctors were shrunk and placed in a miniature submarine to journey through blood vessels and remove a life-threatening blood clot from a man's brain.
The new device - developed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany, the University of Stuttgart, and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology - is a form of nanotechnology, where tiny particles are engineered to perform a range of functions.
Transporter is so tiny that it can pass through tissue and may even be able to penetrate cells
The screw-shaped transporter, which is made of silica and nickel, is just 70 nanometres in diameter and 400 nanometres long (a nanometre is one-billionth of a metre).
It is so tiny - 100 times smaller than a blood cell - that it can pass through tissue and may even be able to penetrate cells.
The plan is for drugs, or even tiny doses of radiation, to be attached to the tip of the transporter (where there are tiny propellers).
The device would then be injected into the patient and guided along, using external handheld magnets, to where it is needed in the body.