Research Topic

Small-Scale Swimmers for Targeted Therapy: Fighting Pathogens and Life-Threatening Diseases

About this Research Topic

The development of micro- and nano-swimmers for biomedical applications has been of great interest in the last decade for representing an alternative platform with higher efficiency compared to traditional or nanomedical therapeutic approaches. Significant research efforts have been devoted to use motile micro- and nano-scale systems based either on biological or synthetic components, and exploiting different actuation modes, for targeted therapy. However, the performance of such platforms for medicine is not only restricted to their motion, but other key aspects, such as their imaging, and safety and therapeutic efficacy, which are of great importance when translating these technologies to clinical applications.

While motion at the micro- and nano-scale has been demonstrated in the last two decades, many challenges regarding the clinical application of motile micro- and nano-devices remain. For the successful translation of swimmers to clinics, these devices should be designed to target specific medical problems. This development comprises not only of optimal batch fabrication schemes and materials (i.e. biocompatible, biodegradable, non-immunogenic), but also advanced tracking/control and imaging technologies in vivo. Other issues include the control of swarms to implement programmable intelligence and self-adaptability to address unmet medical challenges.

This Research Topic offers, to the research community working with small-scale swimmers, a joint platform to publish the latest developments on the use of these devices for medical applications, such as combating pathogens and life-threatening diseases. Manuscripts dealing with both experimental and theoretical aspects of these investigations are considered. The scope of the issue covers the following:

· Synthetic and biohybrid micro- and nanoswimmers for targeted biomedical therapies (treatment and/or diagnosis);
· Micro- and nanoswimmers design for fighting pathogens;
· Smart materials and fabrication techniques for biomedical swimmers;
· Imaging and tracking techniques for micro- and nanoswimmers in biomedical applications;
· Embedded systems (i.e. sensors integration, feedback control);
· Collective motion studies for enhanced treatment;

Important Note: All submissions/contributions to this Research Topic must be in line with the scope of the journal/section they are submitted to. While authors are encouraged to draw from other disciplines to enrich their papers where relevant, they must ensure papers fall within the scope of the journal/section, as expressed in its mission statement.

We would like to acknowledge Dr. Veronica Iacovacci as the Co-ordinator for this Research Topic, and thank her for her contribution to the proposal and project.

Dr. Pané Vidal is the Co-founder of the start-up Magnes AG, and holds patents on microscope and actuator integration, and water pollution treatment. Dr. Medina-Sánchez holds a patent on microtomography, Dr. Ceylan holds patents on spatial encoded functionality, optics and microswimmers and Dr. Cappelleri holds patents on surgical and micro-robotics and unmanned vehicles. All other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regard to the Research Topic subject.


Keywords: Micro- and Nanoswimmers, Micro- and Nanofabrication, Medical Imaging, Therapeutic Delivery, Biomaterials


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The development of micro- and nano-swimmers for biomedical applications has been of great interest in the last decade for representing an alternative platform with higher efficiency compared to traditional or nanomedical therapeutic approaches. Significant research efforts have been devoted to use motile micro- and nano-scale systems based either on biological or synthetic components, and exploiting different actuation modes, for targeted therapy. However, the performance of such platforms for medicine is not only restricted to their motion, but other key aspects, such as their imaging, and safety and therapeutic efficacy, which are of great importance when translating these technologies to clinical applications.

While motion at the micro- and nano-scale has been demonstrated in the last two decades, many challenges regarding the clinical application of motile micro- and nano-devices remain. For the successful translation of swimmers to clinics, these devices should be designed to target specific medical problems. This development comprises not only of optimal batch fabrication schemes and materials (i.e. biocompatible, biodegradable, non-immunogenic), but also advanced tracking/control and imaging technologies in vivo. Other issues include the control of swarms to implement programmable intelligence and self-adaptability to address unmet medical challenges.

This Research Topic offers, to the research community working with small-scale swimmers, a joint platform to publish the latest developments on the use of these devices for medical applications, such as combating pathogens and life-threatening diseases. Manuscripts dealing with both experimental and theoretical aspects of these investigations are considered. The scope of the issue covers the following:

· Synthetic and biohybrid micro- and nanoswimmers for targeted biomedical therapies (treatment and/or diagnosis);
· Micro- and nanoswimmers design for fighting pathogens;
· Smart materials and fabrication techniques for biomedical swimmers;
· Imaging and tracking techniques for micro- and nanoswimmers in biomedical applications;
· Embedded systems (i.e. sensors integration, feedback control);
· Collective motion studies for enhanced treatment;

Important Note: All submissions/contributions to this Research Topic must be in line with the scope of the journal/section they are submitted to. While authors are encouraged to draw from other disciplines to enrich their papers where relevant, they must ensure papers fall within the scope of the journal/section, as expressed in its mission statement.

We would like to acknowledge Dr. Veronica Iacovacci as the Co-ordinator for this Research Topic, and thank her for her contribution to the proposal and project.

Dr. Pané Vidal is the Co-founder of the start-up Magnes AG, and holds patents on microscope and actuator integration, and water pollution treatment. Dr. Medina-Sánchez holds a patent on microtomography, Dr. Ceylan holds patents on spatial encoded functionality, optics and microswimmers and Dr. Cappelleri holds patents on surgical and micro-robotics and unmanned vehicles. All other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regard to the Research Topic subject.


Keywords: Micro- and Nanoswimmers, Micro- and Nanofabrication, Medical Imaging, Therapeutic Delivery, Biomaterials


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

19 March 2021 Manuscript
30 June 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

19 March 2021 Manuscript
30 June 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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