A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia have created a magnetic drug implant that could offer an alternative for patients having to take several pills or intravenous injections. This implant is the first of its kind in Canada.
The device is made up of a silicone sponge with magnetic carbonyl iron particles enclosed in a round polymer layer, and measures only 6 mm in diameter. The drug can be injected into the device and then the device can be surgically implanted into the area being treated.
The device is activated when a magnet is passed over the patient's skin, causing the sponge to deform and triggering the discharge of the drug into adjacent tissue via a miniature opening.
Drug implants can be safe and effective for treating many conditions, and magnetically controlled implants are particularly interesting because you can adjust the dose after implantation by using different magnet strengths. Many other implants lack that feature.
Ali Shademani, PhD Student, UBC
Actively managing drug delivery is mainly applicable for conditions like diabetes, where the timing and required dose of insulin differs from patient to patient, said co-author John K. Jackson, a research scientist in UBC's faculty of pharmaceutical sciences.
This device lets you release the actual dose that the patient needs when they need it, and it's sufficiently easy to use that patients could administer their own medication one day without having to go to a hospital.
John K. Jackson, Research Scientist, UBC
The team tested their device on animal tissue in the lab using docetaxel, a prostate cancer drug. They discovered that it could deliver the drug when as and when required repeatedly. The drug also created an effect on cancer cells similar to that of newly administered docetaxel, indicating that drugs stored in the device remain just as effective.
Mu Chiao, Shademani's supervisor and a professor of mechanical engineering at UBC, said the team is currently involved in refining the device and narrowing down the conditions for its application.
This could one day be used for administering painkillers, hormones, chemotherapy drugs and other treatments for a wide range of health conditions. In the next few years we hope to be able to test it for long-term use and for viability in living models.
Mu Chaio, Professor, UBC
The research paper titled "Active regulation of on-demand drug delivery by magnetically triggerable microspouters" was published online in the Advanced Functional Materials journal.