Ultrathin Needle Delivers Drugs to Specific Brain Regions

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Administrating doses with ultrathin needle allows physicians to target specific brain circuits with reduced side-effects in the rest of the brain and improved treatment efficacy.

Pharmacological treatments for brain disorders have significant side-effects as the drug spreads throughout the entire brain. Researchers at MIT have developed a miniaturized cannula that uses a needle as thin as a human hair to directly deliver drugs to highly specific brain regions, even as small as one cubic millimeter.

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

Researchers placed the cannula in specific brain regions in rats and use it to exert precise control over the dose of a delivered drug, as well as the exact brain region targeted for treatment. By connecting the device to a small remote-controlled pump that is implantable under the skin, the researchers could precisely control the dose delivered through the needle. The device comprises series of connected tubes with diameters of approximately 30 micrometers and lengths of up to 10 centimeters. The researchers used microfabrication techniques to connect and arrange the microtubes within a stainless-steel needle that has a diameter of 150 microns, which is approximately the thickness of a human hair.

According to Novel Drug Delivery System (NDDS) Market Report published by Coherent Market Insights, Novel Drug Delivery System (NDDS) refers to the formulations, systems to transport pharmaceutical compound in the body, and approaches needed to achieve the desired therapeutic effect. The new device developed by researchers was tested in rats, the team was able to deliver a drug to a targeted brain region and were able to affect their motor function. “We believe this tiny microfabricated device could have tremendous impact in understanding brain diseases, as well as providing new ways of delivering biopharmaceuticals and performing biosensing in the brain,” said Robert Langer, another researcher involved in the study.


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