Nature: Electronic on-demand delivery device is also bioresorbable

Layout of the bioresorbable delivery device to activate lipid membranes--Courtesy of Nature

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, working with others around the globe, have developed a drug delivery device that can precisely control the release of drugs via a wireless system and then be completely resorbed upon completion of its task. The externally triggered system offers the exact timing of an implant without the need for surgical extraction.

In an article published this week in Nature, the scientists note the benefits of a delivery device that is actively triggered rather than one that relies on passive diffusion. But they also noted that active systems require a surgical extraction. As a solution, the team created a bioresorbable system that can be operated while inside the body to release a single drug on demand and then break down.

The researchers write that the system would be ideal to treat hormone imbalances, malignant cancers, osteoporosis, diabetic conditions and others.

The device has two main parts: a lipid membrane that holds the drug and an electronic component to heat the membranes, which would release the drug. The electronic component consists of coils made from the metal molybdenum on a sheet of temporary plastic with a bioresorbable substrate. When triggered externally, the coils heat the membranes to control the release rate of the drugs.

The scientists also showed that it was possible to deliver two different drugs at separate rates. The fact that the device can be so precise and yet also completely bioresorbable could be an important step in the realm of drug delivery.

"The materials, device designs and fabrication strategies for these platforms offer an expanded set of options in drug delivery, with potential to improve patient compliance and the efficacy of current clinical procedures," the team wrote in its conclusion. "Deep tissues can be addressed by using near-surface coils connected by bioresorbable wires to the implant site.

- here's the Nature article