Implantable, drug-delivering LEDs ... maybe

Scientific American reports on a team of researchers that has come up with a way to embed little light emitters and sensors into flexible sheets that could one day be used as implanted sensors or as drug-delivery devices.

"You can build systems that very naturally integrate with the tissues of the human body, because these systems are flexible and soft," researcher John Rogers tells the magazine. Rogers recently published his findings in Nature Materials.

"Photoactivated drug delivery is another area that we think LEDs could be useful," Rogers says. To demonstrate, the researchers built light-emitting sutures and an implantable sheet of LEDs that they tested in vivo with an anesthetized laboratory mouse.

This all sounds great, Georgios Bertos, a senior R&D principal engineer at Baxter Healthcare, which has collaborated with the team, tells Scientific American. However, he adds, "I don't think the applications have emerged yet." He also thinks more collaboration with Rogers' group is needed to make the technology more market-specific.

- read the Scientific American article
- and the abstract in Nature Materials

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