02/06/2015 10:38 BST | Updated 02/06/2015 10:59 BST

John Hopkins' Miniature Robots Performing Colon Biopsies Could Help Screen For Cancer

If you're squeamish look away now.

Scientists at John Hopkins' have come up with an alternative way to perform colon biopsies (as seen in the above image) using star shaped micro gripper robots.

colon biopsies

The bots are no bigger than one millimetre and are able to easily travel in your gut tethering to tissue when given a particular signal.

These signals include pH, temperature and enzymes.


The wider aim of the research is to give doctors a less invasive way of performing surgery and minor medical procedures such as colon biopsies that help screen tissue for cancer. We knew there was a point to the disgustingness.

The tiny gold stars which to the naked eye look like free floating strands of tinsel, can be injected using an endoscope. Once the bots are exposed to body temperature it uses its arms to tear off surrounding tissue.

Due to the number of stars that can be administered to a patient at any one point, doctors are able to effectively sample large areas of tissue.

Since the arms are made out of magnetic nickel the bots and their armfuls of tissue can be retrieved using a catheter with a magnetic grip.

While we're all happy that doctors will soon be able to deploy an army of bots to check out our hard-to-reach places, we're equally glad to know that we won't be privy to the tissue-tearing fest.