There are many ways to get medication inside the body, from pills to needles to patches.
Now scientists at Texas A&M University in College Station have discovered a new method that could change drug delivery. It’s what biomedical engineer Mike McShane calls a “smart” material.
“Smart materials are materials that respond to their environment,” said McShane.
The material is a gel that contains dye and microcapsules. Each of the tiny capsules can hold a sensor or drugs that can be released into the body.
Inside the body, the gel becomes a solid and an optical device allows researchers to see the dye in the material through the skin.
“The light that’s emitted back is measured, and that tells us what’s happening in the tissue,” said McShane.
The material can hold and dispense various doses of different drugs, and can even target certain areas of the body. This would allow doctors to control how fast and how much medicine a patient receives.
“So we can actually produce cocktails of drugs that would work over a period of time giving different amounts of drugs at different periods of time,” said Jason Roberts, a biomedical engineer at Texas A&M.
The material can also be used to monitor diseases like diabetes. It can pick up information like how blood sugar is being regulated in the body.
Because the implanted material can target specific parts of the body, it could eliminate side effects that patients experience from taking certain drugs. The scientists say the material is completely biodegradable.
“Basically, what we’re talking about is collecting data that we’ve never had access to before,” said McShane.
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Mike McShane, Texas A&M University