Scientists aboard the International Space Station plan to study if a drug-eluting implant can prevent, slow or even turn back the muscular breakdown observed in astronauts when they fly for an extended period of time.
The investigation is designed to test the efficacy of a drug and a nano-channel drug-delivery system in a space-bound mouse model.
The drug-delivery device, which is about as big as a grain of rice, includes channels that are just two to three nanometers in size. The drug is delivered using simple diffusion, instead of through a pump, according to the researchers.
Once all of the drug has been delivered, the implant can be refilled without being removed.
“The unique aspect of the mission is the nano-channel delivery system is implanted under the skin and provides constant drug delivery in the body, which prevents the need for injections or taking pills,” Yasaman Shirazi, the project’s mission scientist, said in prepared remarks, “and if you want to look at it long-term, it could be a customized device for long-term curing of a disease.”
“We realized if we use channels comparable in size to the drug molecule of interest, we can achieve a very steady, controlled delivery of drug outside of an implanted reservoir for a period of time ranging from up to months and years without any sort of pumping mechanism onboard our implants,” Alessandro Grattoni, the project’s primary investigator, added.
Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research is participating in the investigation, as well as BioServe, Houston Methodist Research Institute, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space and NASA’s Ames Research Center.