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The magnetic drug implant measures just 6 mm in diameter. (Credit: UBC)

Researchers have developed a magnetic drug implant that could offer an alternative for patients struggling with numerous pills or intravenous injections. The device, a silicone sponge with magnetic carbonyl iron particles wrapped in a round polymer layer, measures just 6 mm in diameter. The drug is injected into the device and then surgically implanted in the area being treated. Passing a magnet over the patient’s skin activates the device by deforming the sponge and triggering the release of the drug into surrounding tissue through a tiny opening.

Actively controlling drug delivery is particularly relevant for conditions like diabetes, where the required dose and timing of insulin varies from patient to patient. The researchers tested their device on animal tissue in the lab using the prostate cancer drug docetaxel. They found that it was able to deliver the drug on demand even after repeated use. The drug also produced an effect on cancer cells comparable to that of freshly administered docetaxel, proving that drugs stored in the device stay effective.

The team is working on refining the device and narrowing down the conditions for its use. Potential uses include administering painkillers, hormones, chemotherapy drugs, and other treatments for a wide range of health conditions.

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