In orbit or on Earth, remote controlled therapeutic release

In orbit or on Earth, remote controlled therapeutic release

Houston Methodist Research Institute scientists will receive about $1.25 million from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space to develop an implantable device that delivers therapeutic drugs at a rate guided by remote control. The device’s effectiveness will be tested aboard the International Space Station and on Earth’s surface. Austin-based NanoMedical Systems Inc. and the Houston Methodist Research Institute (HMRI) are also supporting the five-year project, bringing total funding to $1.92 million. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center announced new grants for Houston Methodist and two other institutions earlier today.

“The prospect of developing and demonstrating a remotely controlled drug delivery implant excites us,” said principal investigator and Department of Nanomedicine Interim Co-Chair Alessandro Grattoni, Ph.D. “If we are able to show the technology works in vivo and is safe, it could have an enormous impact on drug delivery and patient care.”

HMRI President and CEO Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D. is the project’s co-principal investigator and will help supervise the project.

Grattoni’s device, called a nanochannel delivery system or “nDS,” is an 18 mm-wide (two-thirds of an inch) squat cylinder. It contains a reservoir for drugs and a silicon membrane housing 615,342 channels as small as 2.5 nm. The channels are sized and shaped to control drug release, and the exactness of the design is achieved using nanotechnology techniques developed by Grattoni and Ferrari. Drug movement through the channels is controlled by surface electrodes that “tune” the rate of drug delivery. Below the drug reservoir is a battery and electronics that can be activated to influence the rate at which drugs exit through the porous membrane. The electrodes are controlled via radio-frequency remote control.

The device will be tested in animal models aboard the International Space Station.