Researchers at Inserm (French Institute of Health and Medical Research), École des Mines de Saint-Étienne, and Linköping University in Sweden, have designed a micropump for delivering on demand drugs into the brain. Currently, orally administered anticonvulsants take too long to take effect, essentially being ineffective for a lot of epileptic patients. The new technology may lead to implants that allow patients to trigger precisely when to deliver a drug with a push of a button, hopefully letting epileptics to stop seizures as soon as they feel them coming. Moreover, drugs that would otherwise be ineffective or dangerous to other organs, may become safe and useful if targeted precisely.
The micropump is 20 times thinner than a strand of hair, and uses an ion exchange mechanism to move positively charged drug molecules through its core. When a current is applied along the length of the pump, the mechanism is activated and the drug solution flows forward.
The researchers tested the device on mouse brain tissue that was excited to simulate epileptic activity. They showed that the micropump delivered the drug to the target tissue, stopping its hyperactivity, while not influencing tissue further away.
Study in Advanced Materials: Controlling Epileptiform Activity with Organic Electronic Ion Pumps