Researchers at University College London and their Belgian counterparts are looking for £10m to help create a miniature robotic surgery assistant, one small enough to fit inside a mother's tummy and operate on unborn babies.
The idea is to combine a robotic helper with a 3D imaging system, so it can accurately map the shape of its patient then assist with the delicate task of surgery on the unborn. The "less invasive" system would pose "considerably less risk to both mother and baby" according to UCL's Professor Sebastien Ourselin, with the key ambition being to create a system sensitive enough to help patch the leaky spinal columns of babies that are developing spina bifida.
The smaller the robotic helper the earlier such repair operations can be carried out, and the earlier problems are fixed the less damage is done to the eventual child. [Guardian]
Image credit: Baby scan from Shutterstock