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A Flexible Catheter Inspired by Wasps

Researchers in the UK developed a flexible catheter that can safely be guided through the brain by a robotic arm.

Imperial College London
Imperial College London

Wasps have inspired me to do many things including flee a picnic, roll down a car window, and purchase aerosol insect spray. But according to a recent Medgadget article, wasps can actually inspire much more productive things such as developing a flexible catheter to allow access to deep areas of the brain. Standard catheters are relatively rigid, which makes reaching certain parts of the brain safely and effectively difficult. A team of researchers at Imperial College London aimed to improve brain catheters, and found inspiration in nature.

A specific species of parasitic wasp has a unique organ they use to lay eggs in the bark of a tree. The organ is composed of interlocking parts that slide over each other, and researchers realized the catheter can take the same structure. The result is a flexible catheter that works with a robotic arm, artificial intelligence and optical fibers to help surgeons navigate the delicate tissues of the brain.

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