Though it certainly appears menacing at first glance, the mechanical "crab" you see above could be saving countless lives before long. It's the handiwork of researchers in Singapore — led by Lawrence Ho and Louis Phee — who set out to improve upon traditional means of removing early-stage gastric (stomach) cancer. The minuscule robot is placed at the tip of an endoscope and travels to the afflicted region by entering through a patient's mouth. Armed with a pincer for grabbing hold of cancerous tissue, the crab's other "leg" is a hook which can then slice away the area and coagulate the wound to stem any bleeding.
Doctors control the robot's fine movements through the aid of a built-in camera, with the level of precision offered by the tool eliminating the need for invasive surgery — drawbacks of which include scarring and a heightened risk of infection. The crab has already proved its mettle by successfully treating five test patients, and its researchers hope to see commercial availability of their invention in three years' time. The sooner the better, we'd say; stomach cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer worldwide. Sadly it also ranks second in mortality rate, trailing only lung cancer.