Polymer solutions pulsing through miniaturized plumbing may control implanted drug delivery devices and provide memory for liquid computers, according to a new study.
The researchers created two small-scale fluid drive devices, one for flow control and the other for fluidic memory, that rely on the special behavior of polymer liquids to function. These findings are described in the 09 May issue of the journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
"One option for this research would be an artificial pancreas for patients with diabetes. The device could measure glucose levels and dispense appropriate amounts of insulin," said Stephen Quake, an author from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.
Implantable devices employing this technology may eventually monitor aspects of human physiology from the inside and dole out drugs accordingly, explained Quake.
"Although we have only built pilot devices, there may be some practical drug delivery applications for them," said Alex Groisman, the first author on the paper and a researcher from the University of California-San Diego in La Jolla, California.
Groisman used the pharmaceutical application model to explain the operation of this new generation of fluid contraptions.
"Imagine an implanted pill with an inflatable chamber to hold a drug. If you connect this reservoir to the drug's drop-off spot in the body with a microfluidic channel, you can achieve relatively constant flow of medicine despite decreases in pressure," said Groisman.
This consistency of flow, despite changing pressure, is a special feature of this new device called a "flux stabilizer."
"You could discharge 90 percent of your medicine without an intolerable decr
Contact: Lisa Onaga
American Association for the Advancement of Science