What is it about?

Doctors use needles inside the prostate to find out if someone has cancer and to treat it with a laser. But when they put the needle in, it can move the tissue around and damage it, which makes it hard to do the job right. We made a special kind of needle inspired by wasps that moves by itself and doesn't damage the tissue. We used 3D printed parts to make it safe to use inside an MRI scanner. The needle is made of six thin metal rods that allow the needle to move itself through the tissue with what we call a "self-propelling motion". We tested it in human prostate tissue and found that it works well. This new technology could help treat prostate cancer better.

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Why is it important?

When prostate cancer is caught early, it can be treated by using lasers that only target the cancerous area in the prostate. This is called focal laser ablation, and it is a good option because it doesn't harm healthy tissue. However, it is really important to get the laser in exactly the right spot, and that can be tricky. The new self-propelled needle inspired by wasps could make it easier for doctors to place the laser in the right spot, which would make the treatment more effective and safer for patients.


Parasitic wasps lay their eggs inside other insects, which can be scary for us, but exciting for scientists looking for new medical tools. By studying how these wasps lay their eggs, we hope to create better needles for prostate cancer treatment that could save many lives.

Jette Bloemberg
Technische Universiteit Delft

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Design and evaluation of an MRI-ready, self-propelled needle for prostate interventions, PLoS ONE, September 2022, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0274063.
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