BRITISH COLUMBIA

Magnetic Drug Implant From UBC Could Revolutionize How Drugs Are Delivered

02/15/2017 04:50 EST | Updated 02/15/2017 04:51 EST

Pills and needles can make many patients uncomfortable, but researchers at the University of British Columbia think they have a solution — a tiny magnetic implant.

The invention, a first of its kind in Canada, allows doctors and even patients to dispense medication inside their bodies and control the dose.

A six-millimetre silicone sponge with magnetic carbonyl ion particles is injected with a drug and then surgically placed inside a patient, according to a UBC press release Tuesday.

magnetic drug implant

The device is only six millimetres in diameter. (Photo: UBC Public Affairs/Flickr)

Running a magnet over the skin deforms the sponge, which releases the medication into tissue.

The researchers tested the device on animal tissue using a cancer drug. They found it dispensed the substance when prompted multiple times, and the drug was just as effective when stored in the device as if it had been injected.

Drug implants aren’t new. They allow medication to be delivered to a specific part of a person’s body, which can also allow for a lower dose.

magnetic drug implant

The dose of medication can be adjusted after implantation using different magnet strengths. (Photo: UBC Public Affairs/Flickr)

But the magnetic one is different because different magnet strengths can be used to adjust the dose after implantation, study author Ali Shademani, a PhD student in UBC’s biomedical engineering program, said in the release.

“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,” said co-author John K. Jackson.

ali shademani hongbin zhang

Study author Ali Shademani and and co-author Hongbin Zhang. (Photo: UBC Public Affairs/Flickr)

That could be especially useful for diabetes patients, who have their own unique needs in terms of insulin timing and dosage, he said.

Mechanical engineering professor Mu Chiao said the innovation could be one day used with painkillers, hormones and a wide range of other treatments.

They hope to soon test the magnetic implant on live subjects soon.

You can see how it works in the video above.

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