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'Biodegradable battery' could be used to deliver drugs, researcher says

By Dan Stanton , 01-Apr-2014
Last updated the 02-Apr-2014 at 15:33 GMT

An intracochlear drug delivery implant could be powered over several months by a biodegradable battery according to an expert.

Researchers at Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US are investigating whether a battery that dissolves in the body could be used in implantable drug delivery devices to administer drug dosage by radio signal.

The technology uses magnesium foil as the anode, and cathodes of iron, molybdenum or tungsten, which, according to the journal Nature , dissolve slowly and safely in the body.

The project is being led by John Rogers and his team at the University of Illinois but expert Jeffrey Borenstein who has worked on other biodegradable devices at Draper Laboratories, Cambridge, Massachusetts, told told in-Pharmatechnologist.com, this technology is a new concept as “until recently, functional biodegradable materials for circuits, batteries and other electronic devices were not available.”

According to Borenstein, there has already been “significant interest from many pharma companies” towards the project, specifically in the area of intracochlear drug delivery with candidate compounds in development for treatment of hearing loss.

“Our implantable microfluidic drug delivery device for intracochlear drug delivery will ultimately be used for human clinical applications,” he told us, “in which compounds can be delivered locally and programmably over periods of several months. In addition, these devices can be used in the near term for pre-clinical testing of new therapeutic compounds in development.”

Batteries and Drug Delivery

The use of batteries to deliver drugs is not wholly a new concept, with insulin pumps, for example, relying on traditional batteries to deliver insulin at timely intervals.

Furthermore, Borenstein told us there were other devices in development that used batteries and radio signals to control drug administration, one of which was the MIT developed ’MicroChip’ device, being commercialised by the company MicroCHIPS.

However, the use of a biodegradable battery is extremely novel, Borenstein said, and this is the only concept that allows an implant to be fully reabsorbed into the body itself.

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