What if we could heal our bodies by remote control?

The future of medical treatment could include using stem cells that are injected into the body, steered to a specific location, and then remotely activated.

Once adopted into the clinic, the technique could enable new treatments for broken bones, or diseases such as Parkinson’s or osteoarthritis – or even to stimulate the body’s immune response to shorten healing times for common illnesses.

The technique involves injecting stem cells – human cells that can turn into any type of cell – into the site of injury or disease in the patient. Nanoscale magnetic particles are then used to direct and control the biological processes required to carry out healing.

The team behind the technique – from BHP founding member the University of Birmingham – recently showcased their work at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition, showing how this technology can be applied to develop new treatments for a variety of different diseases or injuries. In particular, by tailoring the stem cell with different proteins or antibodies, it’s possible to promote the regeneration and healing of different tissue types, from bones to soft tissue and even nerves.

Professor Alicia El Haj, Dr TJ Broomhall and Alicia’s team of the University of Birmingham’s School of Chemical Engineering are presenting the exhibit. “We’ve shown how using these magnetic nanoparticles can help tissue to regrow and heal and our ambition is to develop technologies that can translate these exciting results into the clinic,” said Professor El Haj.

The Royal Society Summer Science exhibition has up to 8000 visitors from schools and the public passing through the exhibits over a 4-day period from 6 – 10 July 2022.

This is one of the major science exhibitions in the UK and projects are selected from significant numbers of submissions for their ability to demonstrate new advances in the field and topics relevant to school children of multiple age groups.