Magnetically Actuated Microrobots for Targeted Therapeutics

Jin-young Kim
Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST)
Nov. 30 14:40~15:10


Targeted therapies have emerged as a promising new biomedical treatment since they can be used to transport drugs to specific areas such as tumors and then treat the targeted area for an appropriate length of time [1-5]. These therapies have many advantages over conventional medical treatments, such as oral or intravenous drug administration. However, they are not yet available for clinical treatments as the targeted drug/cell delivery mechanisms require improvement. For example, it remains difficult to deliver the micro- or nanoparticles used as drug carriers to specific areas of the body since some of the drug carriers administered deviate from the intended route, especially under fluid flow conditions, such as in circulating blood [6-9]. Therefore, there is a demand for more accurately targeted drug/cell delivery methods. These methods should transport drugs precisely to the targeted areas without losing therapeutic agents before they reach their destination. These challenges have prompted considerable interest in microrobots. Microrobots are micron scale (less than 1 mm) devices that can be precisely and wirelessly controlled by external power sources such as ultrasound and magnetic fields. This means that they can be used to deliver medicine in a minimally invasive way [10]. As they are operated wirelessly, they have a possibility to be navigated around various environments inside the human body, such as the circulatory, urinary, and central nervous systems. External magnetic fields are often used to control the motion of microrobots in three-dimensional (3D) space. In this paper, 3D porous scaffold-type of microrobots were fabricated and characterized for 3D cell culture and targeted cell delivery. Cylindrical and hexahedral 3D scaffold-type of microrobots were fabricated using 3D laser lithography, and remotely and precisely manipulated by applying an external magnetic field gradient. Human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells were cultured on the microrobot to demonstrate the feasibility of the use as targeted cell transporters.


Figure 1. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images of the fabricated a) cylindrical and b) hexahedral 3D scaffold microrobots, c) magnetic actuation control of the microrobots, d) SEM and e) fluorescent images of the HEK 293 cells-cultured hexahedral microrobot.



  • 2016, Post-doc., Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering, ETH Zurich in Switzerland
    – Project : EU project “The Body-on-a-Chip”
  • 2012, Ph.D., Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London in UK.
    – Thesis : “Hybrid devices for lab-chip chromatography and droplet-based microfluidics”
  • 2008, MSc, Department of Materials and Chemical Engineering, Hanyang University in Korea
    – Thesis : “Fabrication and Characterisation of the digital Si-PIN X-ray detector for single photocounting sensor”
  • 2006, BSc, Department of Materials and Chemical Engineering, Hanyang University in Korea


Professional Career

  • 2016-, Senior Researcher, DGIST-ETH Microrobotics Research Center, DGIST, Republic of Korea