Chemically Propelled Nano and Micromotors in the Body: Quo Vadis?

Ambika Somasundar, Ayusman Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The active delivery of drugs to disease sites in response to specific biomarkers is a holy grail in theranostics. If successful, it would greatly diminish the therapeutic dosage and reduce collateral cytotoxicity. In this context, the development of nano and micromotors that are able to harvest local energy to move directionally is an important breakthrough. However, serious hurdles remain before such active systems can be employed in vivo in therapeutic applications. Such motors and their energy sources must be safe and biocompatible, they should be able to move through complex body fluids, and have the ability to reach specific cellular targets. Given the complexity in the design and deployment of nano and micromotors, it is also critically important to show that they are significantly superior to inactive “smart” nanoparticles in theranostics. Furthermore, receiving regulatory approval requires the ability to scale-up the production of nano and micromotors with uniformity in structure, function, and activity. In this essay, the limitations of the current nano and micromotors and the issues that need to be resolved before such motors are likely to find theranostic applications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2007102
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 4 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Biotechnology
  • General Materials Science
  • Biomaterials


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