Future Tense: Magnetically Triggered Composite Membrane

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Technology: Magnetically triggered composite membrane

Purpose: To provide precise doses of drugs that cannot be taken orally as needed over a long period of time

Developer: Being tested at Children's Hospital Boston

How it works: A membrane that is less than 1/2 inch in diameter and embedded with thermosensitive nanogels and magnetite nanoparticles encapsulates the drug. Then, when a magnetic field is turned on outside the body, the nanoparticles heat up, causing the nanogels to temporarily collapse and enabling the drug to enter the body. It takes roughly one to two minutes for the drug to be released and about five to 10 minutes for drug delivery to stop after the magnetic force is turned off, the nanoparticles cool, and the nanogels reexpand.

Potential improvement: This device would allow medications to be delivered without implanting an electronic chip or heat source in the patient to release the drugs. The device also enables the physician to determine when the drug is administered and adjust the dose, if needed.

What's next: Animal testing is currently under way—the membranes have proven to be functional over multiple cycles and have not been rejected by the animals' immune systems. Human trials are still a ways off.

Carrie Vaughan

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