Researchers develop 'Wi-Fi'-triggered dissolvable, implantable device for drug delivery

The dissolving implant, made of silk and magnesium--Courtesy of Tufts University (click for enlarged version)

Researchers at Tufts University have come up with a resorbable electronic implant that when used in mice was able to be triggered remotely by wireless signal and deliver heat to infected tissue.

The team, which included members from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was able to eliminate bacterial infection in mice by using heat from the device, which then dissolved harmlessly in the test animals, according to a Tufts press release. Previously, the device was only tested in vitro.

Results of the research were recently published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation helped support the research.

"This is an important demonstration step forward for the development of on-demand medical devices that can be turned on remotely to perform a therapeutic function in a patient and then safely disappear after their use, requiring no retrieval," Fiorenzo Omenetto, the lead author and a biomedical engineer at Tufts, said in a statement. "These wireless strategies could help manage postsurgical infection, for example, or pave the way for eventual 'Wi-Fi' drug delivery."

The wireless therapy device is strong enough to be handled during surgery, yet it is designed to harmlessly dissolve within minutes or weeks depending on how the silk protein was processed. Each of the devices tested included a serpentine resistor and a power-receiving coil made of magnesium attached to a silk protein layer. The magnesium heater was inserted into a silk "pocket" that protected the electronics and controlled dissolution time.

Researchers said the wireless activation of the devices enhanced antibiotic release without reducing antibiotic activity.

- see the release
- check out the abstract