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Medicine by micromachine

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A tiny, programmable electronic system that delivers the proper drug dose at exactly the right time would clearly benefit patients and caregivers and would also ease the burden of patient monitoring on medical personnel and hospitals. Indeed, this work could revolutionize medical care. This drug-delivery system consists of a programmable micropump powered by a small battery and controlled by an electronic circuit. It pulses precise quantities of a drug from a small reservoir into the inner ear. A flow sensor meters the delivery and sends out an alert if anything goes wrong. Delivering therapeutic compounds to the ear, though, is no small task. Any drug-delivery system for the ear will require extremely high-precision engineering to navigate the intricate internal geometry of the cochlea. We've tested this system on guinea pigs, and our results show that it can successfully deliver medication to the inner ear without damaging hearing.

Published in:

Spectrum, IEEE  (Volume:46 ,  Issue: 11 )