A Drug Delivery Nano Implant Could Help Chronic Disease Management

The new device could greatly improve the lives of people with chronic diseases and is set to be tested in space.
Chris Young

Imagine a world where your whole medication intake is scheduled and planned via a small implant inside your body.

Researchers from Houston Methodist have successfully tested a nanochannel delivery system (nDS) that might make this the future of medicine.

No need to worry what to take at what time, the implant will be programmed to know your daily regimen and release doses into your bloodstream on command.


A breakthrough in medicine?

It's either a breakthrough in medicine or a Brave New World-style approach to medication that could be manipulated by those administering the doses — you decide.

The nanochannel delivery system (nDS) does show great promise though, in helping people with chronic diseases like arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.

Allowing them a remotely controlled medication regimen that can be scheduled would greatly improve their quality of life: it would mean their lives would no longer have to revolve around their medication.

Nanochannel delivery systems

Researchers from Houston Methodist were able to successfully deliver predetermined dosages of two chronic disease medications using an nDS.

The nDS, a grape-sized implant, was remotely controlled using Bluetooth technology. The device provides controlled releases of drugs without the need for pumps, valves or a power supply for up to a year without the need for a refill. This is a great improvement on other similar devices that rely on regular refills, pumps, and valves.

Houston Methodist is planning extreme remote communication testing of the nDS on the International Space Station in 2020.

Research findings

A proof-of-concept paper was published today in the journal Lab on a Chip explaining how Houston Methodist nanomedicine researchers delivered long-term medication plans through their device. They did so at different dosages depending on the patients' needs.

"We see this universal drug implant as part of the future of health care innovation. Some chronic disease drugs have the greatest benefit of delivery during overnight hours when it's inconvenient for patients to take oral medication. This device could vastly improve their disease management and prevent them from missing doses, simply with a medical professional overseeing their treatment remotely," said Alessandro Grattoni, Ph.D., corresponding author and chair of the department of nanomedicine at Houston Methodist Research Institute.

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