Robocilia a Tool for Studying Embryonic Development

Robocilia is a manmade cilia and a tool for studying embryonic development. The cilia is a mix of window caulking and copolymers pulled into filaments. Natural cilia are hair-like particles that give movement to organisms. This is an early scientific development and many more uses for this technology will appear. The tool uses many physics equations and mathematical tools.

Richard Superfine is a professor at University of North Carolina. He has a special talent for working with molecules and atoms. He made a special microscope that any scientist can use to manipulate molecules, which is what robocilia is all about. Scientists use the micro-manipulator and the microscope to move cilia and cells around.   

Researchers want to understand how the cilia assist in creating germ layers and the right side of the embryo.  Richard Superfine, biophysicist at the University of North Carolina  and his team created the cilia to increase the flow of fluid in an embryo to help in its development.. The Scientist Magazine has a video that reveals their work showing the cilia mimicking the natural cilia.  Molecules play a big part in how the cilia move. Differences in where the molecules start and end move the node in a different direction.

Another team at the University of Southern Mississippi also experiments with manmade cilia. Marek Urban leads the group. Another science observer in the United Kingdom suggest that the cilia create shape in animals.

Scientists know that the fluid flow helps the embryo develop with normal hands, legs, and feet. The fluid also aids in the development of the lungs. The movement caused by the robocilia may prevent clubbing of feet and hands and hypoplastic lungs.

Currently, the robocilia are able to mimic the flow produced by the real cilia. They discovered that the flow recirculates around the chamber wall. The model controls where and how fast the fluid flows. It uses magnets to direct the flow. Moving the magnet changes the flow of the fluid. The control of the fluid comes from the movement of the cilia. If the frequency of the movement is faster, the fluid will move faster. They also use enhanced diffusion to overcome turbulence.

So far in the study, the experiments have used mice embryos. They have used the Poiseuille–Couette flow. The entire experiment needs more adjustments before humans can use it. So far, they have learned how to mimic the cilia in the body. No records exist online about  the work continuing after 2010.