Q Why is it in News ?
A Scientists in the United States have created the world’s first “living robots” named “xenobots”.
- The tiny robots have been built from the cells of the African clawed frog. Scientists have repurposed living cells scraped from frog embryos and assembled them into entirely new life-forms.
- The robots have been named after the species of aquatic frog Xenopus laevis, found across sub-Saharan Africa from Nigeria and Sudan to South Africa.
- While humans have been manipulating organisms for their benefit since at least the dawn of agriculture, and genetic editing has created a few artificial organisms in recent years, the latest research is a breakthrough because it designs, for the first time ever, “completely biological machines from scratch”.
Q Why scientisits choose Xenopus laevis ?
- Xenopus is a genus of African frogs that are commonly known as the African clawed frogs.
- Two species of Xenopus are regularly used by biologists, Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis. Both species are fully aquatic, and are easy to maintain in captivity.
- Xenopus is a valuable tool because they are:
- Hardy, fully aquatic and easy to maintain in the laboratory,
- Produce eggs year-round,
- Eggs are a reliable and flexible material for research,
- Embryos are a good model for vertebrate development,
- Genetically similar to humans thus a good model for human disease
Q What can be its applications ?
- These soft-body living machines can have several applications in biomedicine and the environment.
- They could be made from a human patient’s own cells, which would bypass the immune response challenges of other kinds of micro-robotic delivery systems.
- Such xenobots could potentially be used to scrape plaque from arteries and with additional cell types and bioengineering, locate and treat disease.
- Many useful applications of these living robots include searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering microplastic in the oceans, travelling in arteries to scrape out plaque, etc.