Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing a pump to deliver drugs directly to the brain.
Alejandro Aponte, a mechanical engineering major at the University of Puerto Rico, has spent his summer working with Michael Cima, a professor of engineering, as part of MIT’s Summer Scholars program.
The team’s pump prototype is attached to a needle, enabling targeted drug delivery. Aponte has focused his efforts on keeping the pump’s multiple parts as static as possible.
““That will be really important for when we want to make these smaller and implantable, because not only do we not want movement of the needle, but we also don’t want moving of this central actuation portion,” MIT postdoc Ritu Raman told MIT News.
To optimize the pump’s design, Aponte started with a modular version made up of many parts and moved to an integrated design.
“That’s actually very important for when we’re building prototypes,” Raman said. “We want to take apart every little piece and think about how can we make this part better and that better, and then at the end, we can put it all together.”
At the heart of the team’s design strategy is an attempt to make the drug pump as small as possible.
“This is very important because the type of work that we are doing requires the pump to be implantable, so that’s our main target here,” Aponte said.
The lab hopes that eventually their technology could be used to diagnose and treat brain disorders, like anxiety and depression.
“The critical part of this platform is we have these probes that go into very specific neural circuits inside the brain and we want to infuse drugs to those circuits,” Raman said, according to the news outlet.