Tiny pumps patch in large molecules for drug delivery

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a new type of pump for drug-delivery patches that promises to deliver a wider range of medication than is now possible through conventional patches.

"We have developed a simple pump that's activated by touch from the heat of your finger and requires no battery," says Babak Ziaie, a Purdue professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering. The pump contains a liquid that boils at body temperature so that the heat from a finger's touch causes it to rapidly turn to a vapor, exerting enough pressure to force drugs through microneedles on the patches.

This opens up the world of drug-delivery patches to larger molecules that cannot be absorbed through the skin on transdermal patches.

Ziaie envisions throw-away patches containing 20-micron-diameter needles that would act as a bandage. "You would use it and discard," he says.

Research findings are detailed in a paper being presented during the 14th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences on Oct. 3-7 at University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

- check out Purdue's press release