Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical technology that uses powerful magnetic fields to visualize structures within the body. One innovative expansion of the technique presently being investigated is using the magnetic fields to guide small magnetic objects:
Sylvain Martel and his colleagues at the NanoRobotics Laboratory at Ecole Polytechnique de MontrÃ©al in Canada are also using magnetic fields, but in a different way. They are using fields generated by a magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI) machine to ferry small beads through the bloodstream with the goal of delivering therapeutics close to tumours. This has several advantages, says Dr Martel. For one thing, most hospitals already have an MRI machine, so there is no need to construct or buy additional equipment. Furthermore, as well as propelling a magnetic device through the body, an MRI machine can also locate it.
The whole article is well worth a look, as it describes several other novel medical technologies and approaches. My other favorite is the ARES ( Assembling Reconfigurable Endoluminal Surgical system) Project, which seeks to create robotic operating tools that are swallowed as a set of small pieces that then assemble together inside the patient’s stomach.