9 Q&A: BactoBots are here to arm the human body against foreign invaders, among other tiny tasks

CINCINNATI - Bacterial Robotics  is working to solve big problems with tiny, supercharged bacterial organisms.

The Cincinnati company's BactoBots are genetically enhanced, non-disease causing bacteria that can do everything from cleanse water to target tumors.

The BactoBot's work borrows from nature. It accomplishes its tasks in various ways, including metabolization, chemical production or conduction.

A BactoBot subsidiary, Pilus Energy , recently merged with Tauriga Sciences to commercialize wastewater-to-value BactoBot technology.

9 Questions for Bacterial Robotics CEO Jason Barkeloo

1. What spurred the idea of Bacterial Robotics?

During my last assignment at the U.S. Army Medical Research unit, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, we looked extensively at technologies for remote applications. The idea to modifying bacteria into “cybernetic robots” came to me after that.

2. Explain what a BactoBot is, and what it does, to the average person?

A BactoBot is a bacterial robot. More simply, it is the idea of taking a naturally occurring organism and enhancing it to perform human useful functions.

For example, there are more “foreign” cells in our bodies than our own cells. However, we do a poor job enlisting their aid in helping us, and yet they have a vested interest in our health. By making selective enhancements to those organisms within our bodies, we can create a force-multiplier effect.

3. What are BactoBots made from?

A BactoBot is a bacterium enhanced to perform these various functions.

4. Are the bots being used in the market now? If so, by whom?

We just merged the first BactoBot subsidiary company, Pilus Energy, with a public firm. They are going to work toward commercialization of the BactoBot. Our model is to develop the BactoBot, and then have a market expert firm actually take the product to the market.

5. In what applications could BactoBots be used beyond what you are doing currently?

  • Therapeutics
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Sensors
  • Produce gases
  • Produce fuels
  • Chemical production
  • Mining
  • Water
  • Food

6. What can BactoBots do better than current technologies?

Reduce costs by amplifying the efficiency and speed of industrial processes.

7. You recently were awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). How will it be used?

A BactoBot (aka, AuriBot) that is injected into a skull-based tumor to kill the tumor. This would be used to augment or replace the current high-risk surgeries.

8. Are there any other Bacterial Robotics products under development or on the horizon?

Yes. We have four others in various stages.

9. What's next for Bacterial Robotics?

Our goal is to show feasibility of the skull-based surgical AuriBot then place that product with a global medical device firm. 

Connect with WCPO Contributor Feoshia Davis on Twitter: @feoshiawrites .

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