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Delivering Medicine Through Wireless Implants

Nanowire Implants

Researchers have successfully pioneered nanowires to act as surgical implants; once inside the human body, these can be controlled wirelessly to deliver medications at specific times and in a controlled way.

This process is seen as step forward because the most common way of delivering drugs – through ingestion or injection – is a little indiscriminate, meaning the drug may not reach its intended target or may even affect other parts of the body unintentionally. This new method allows for a greater concentration of a drug to be delivered at a specific site; an example would be with chemotherapy.

The nanotechnology works by configuring the nanowires to react to an electromagnetic field, controlled by a remote device. The nanowires consist of hundreds of tiny wires, matted together; controlling the electromagnetic field was the most complex part of the research. establishing this allowed the nanotechnology to be planted deeper and deeper into control animals.

In trials, the researchers tested the implants in mice with injuries to their spinal cords. The implants contained the corticosteroid dexamethasone. The research measured a marker of inflammation in the central nervous system. The studies showed the inflammation was treated after a week of controlled treatment.

In the mice, the devices functioned at a depth of 3 centimeters. Going deeper is currently limited by the ability to control the signal and in ensuring consistent administration of a drug.

The success of the study in mice allows the devices to be tested on other animals, with human trials a possibility within a year or so.

The technology was developed by scientists based at Purdue University. The research has been published in the Journal of Controlled Release as ” Remote-Controlled Eradication of Astrogliosis in Spinal Cord Injury via Electromagnetically-induced Dexamethasone Release from Smart Nanowires “.

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.