Ultrathin Needle Can Deliver Drugs Directly to The Brain


Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Summary: Researchers have devised a miniaturized system that can deliver tiny quantities of medicine to brain regions as small as 1 cubic millimeter.


Drugs used to treat brain disorders often interact with brain chemicals called neurotransmitters or the cell receptors that interact with neurotransmitters. For example, Prozac (used to treat patients with depression by boosting serotonin levels) and I-dopa (used to treat Parkinson’s disease). But these drugs can have side effects as they act throughout the brain. A research team from MIT have developed a miniaturized cannula (a thin tube used to deliver medicine) that could target very small areas. This device consists of several tubes contained within a needle about as thin as a human hair and can deliver one or more drugs deep within the brain, with very precise control over how much drug is given and where it goes. The miniaturized system can deliver tiny quantities of medicine to brain regions as small as 1mm3. The study findings were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Miniature Ultrathin needle for targeted drug delivery

This undated image provided by researcher Canan Dagdeviren in January 2018 shows an implant that can precisely drip medications deep into the brain by remote control. The device could mark a new approach to treating brain diseases—potentially reducing side effects by targeting only the hard-to-reach specific sections that need care. (Canan Dagdeviren/MIT)

In a study of rats, they found that they could deliver targeted doses of a drug that affects the animals’ motor function. Using microfabrication techniques, the researchers constructed tubes with diameters of about 30μm and lengths up to 10cm. These tubes are contained within a stainless steel needle with a diameter of about 150 microns. The researchers connected the cannulas to small pumps that can be implanted under the skin. Using these pumps, the researchers showed that they could deliver tiny doses (hundreds of nanoliters) into the brains of rats. As the device is customizable, in the future it can have different channels for different chemicals, or for light, to target tumors or neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s. It also could make easier to deliver potential new treatments for behavioral disorders such as addiction or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Prof. Ann Graybiel said, “Even if scientists and clinicians can identify a therapeutic molecule to treat neural disorders, there remains the formidable problem of how to delivery the therapy to the right cells—those most affected in the disorder. Because the brain is so structurally complex, new accurate ways to deliver drugs or related therapeutic agents locally are urgently needed.”


More Information: C. Dagdeviren et al., “Miniaturized neural system for chronic, local intracerebral drug delivery,” Science Translational Medicine (2018). stm.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/ … scitranslmed.aan2742


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