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Nanochannel Implant Could Revolutionize Drug Delivery

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 20 Dec 2016
Image: A diagram of the capsule and implantation into a cancerous tumor (Photo courtesy of Lyle Hood/UTSA).
Image: A diagram of the capsule and implantation into a cancerous tumor (Photo courtesy of Lyle Hood/UTSA).
A new study describes a tiny implantable drug delivery system that uses thousands of nanochannels to regulate the release of various medications.

Developed by researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA; USA), and Houston Methodist Research Institute (TX, USA) the capsule system combines a biomedical nanoelectromechanical systems (BioNEMS) nanofluidic membrane with thousands of parallel nanochannels. Using a concentration-driven diffusive transport, the nanochannel membrane platform is capable of sustained delivery of chemotherapy drugs, radio-sensitization agents, immunomodulation therapy, and imaging contrast agents, among others.

A minimally invasive, percutaneous trocar delivery method assists serial implantation throughout a target tissue volume. The capsule can deliver medicinal doses for several days or a few weeks, making it especially suited to treating cancer. A larger version may provide constant delivery of HIV-battling drugs for over a year. The system could also be used to deliver cortisone to damaged joints in order to avoid painful, frequent injections, and possibly even to pursue immunotherapy treatments for cancer patients. The study was published in the October 2016 issue of the Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology.

“The idea behind immunotherapy is to deliver a cocktail of immune drugs to call attention to the cancer in a person's body, so the immune system will be inspired to get rid of the cancer itself,” said lead author assistant professor of mechanical engineering Lyle Hood, PhD, of UTSA. “The problem with most drug-delivery systems is that you have a specific minimum dosage of medicine that you need to take for it to be effective. There's also a limit to how much of the drug can be present in your system so that it doesn't make you sick.”

NEMS are a class of devices integrating electrical and mechanical functionality on the nanoscale, forming the logical next miniaturization step from so-called microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The name derives from typical device dimensions in the nanometer range, leading to low mass, high mechanical resonance frequencies, potentially large quantum mechanical effects such as zero point motion, and a high surface-to-volume ratio.

Related Links:
University of Texas San Antonio
Houston Methodist Research Institute

Mercury Medical
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