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MIT develops thin-film 'micro pharmacy'
Date:2/11/2008

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--A new thin-film coating developed at MIT can deliver controlled drug doses to specific targets in the body following implantation, essentially serving as a micro pharmacy.

The film could eventually be used to deliver drugs for cancer, epilepsy, diabetes and other diseases. It is among the first drug-delivery coatings that can be remotely activated by applying a small electric field.

You can mete out what is needed, exactly when it's needed, in a systematic fashion, said Paula Hammond, the Bayer Professor of Chemical Engineering and senior author of a paper on the work appearing in the Feb. 11 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The film, which is typically about 150 nanometers (billionths of a meter) thick, can be implanted in specific parts of the body.

The films are made from alternating layers of two materials: a negatively charged pigment and a positively charged drug molecule, or a neutral drug wrapped in a positively charged molecule.

The pigment, called Prussian Blue, sandwiches the drug molecules and holds them in place. (Part of the reason the researchers chose to work with Prussian Blue is that the FDA has already found it safe for use in humans.)

When an electrical potential is applied to the film, the Prussian Blue loses its negative charge, which causes the film to disintegrate, releasing the drugs. The amount of drug delivered and the timing of the dose can be precisely controlled by turning the voltage on and off.

The electrical signal can be remotely administered (for example, by a physician) using radio signals or other techniques that have already been developed for other biomedical devices.

The films can carry discrete packets of drugs that can be released separately, which could be especially beneficial for chemotherapy. The research team is now working on loading the films with different cancer drugs.

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Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson@mit.edu
617-258-5402
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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