Researchers from the University of British Columbia have developed a magnetic drug implant that measures just 6 millimeters in diameter and can deliver a drug locally to a targeted tissue. The team’s work was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.
The device is a silicone sponge with magnetic carbonyl iron particles, wrapped in a round polymer layer. After the device is loaded with drug, it is surgically implanted into the area being treated. To activate the device, researchers passed a magnet over the patient’s skin and deformed the sponge, initiating the drug’s release into surrounding tissue through a small opening.
“Drug implants can be safe and effective for treating many conditions, and magnetically controlled implants are particularly interesting because you can adjust the dose after implantation by using different magnet strengths. Many other implants lack that feature,” co-author Ali Shademani said in prepared remarks.
“This device lets you release the actual dose that the patient needs when they need it, and it’s sufficiently easy to use that patients could administer their own medication one day without having to go to a hospital,” co-author John Jackson added.
The team tested the implant on animal tissue using a prostate cancer drug known as docetaxel. Even after multiple trials, the researchers found that the device was able to deliver the drug on demand.
They also concluded that drugs stored within the implant remain efficacious, as they produced an effect on cancer cells comparable to that of freshly administered docetaxel.
“This could 1 day be used for administering painkillers, hormones, chemotherapy drugs and other treatments for a wide range of health conditions. In the next few years we hope to be able to test it for long-term use and for viability in living models,” co-author Mu Chiao said.