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Nanoengineers from the University of California in San Diego, USA, have developed microscopic robots capable of moving into the lung and delivering drugs to treat life-threatening cases of bacterial pneumonia, writes the magazine "Nature Materials", quoted by BTA.

In a study with mice, the nanorobots were able to safely eliminate pneumonia-causing bacteria without damaging the lung, resulting in 100 percent survival of the tested animals.

In comparison, untreated rodents died within three days of infection. 

In the development of the miniature robots, algae cells were used, the surface of which is dotted with nanoparticles filled with antibiotics.

The algae provide movement that allows the microrobots to swim and directly deliver antibiotics to more bacteria in the lungs. 

Antibiotic-containing nanoparticles are made of small biodegradable polymer spheres coated with the cell membranes of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell.

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What is special about these cell membranes is that they absorb and neutralize inflammatory molecules produced by bacteria and the body's immune system.

This enables the microrobots to reduce harmful inflammation, which in turn makes them more effective at fighting lung infection.

The team used the tiny robots to treat mice with an acute and potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

This disease often affects mechanically ventilated patients in the intensive care unit.

The treatment with the microrobots was also more effective than the intravenous injection of antibiotics into the blood.

To achieve the same effect, a dose of antibiotics that is 3000 times higher than that used in nanorobots is required.

The team's approach is so effective because it delivers the drug exactly where it's needed, rather than dispersing it throughout the rest of the body.

"These results show how targeted drug delivery combined with active movement by microalgae improves therapeutic efficacy," says Joseph Wang of the research team.