Researchers at the Tufts University and University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana successfully delivered an antibiotic treatment to mice with a bacterial infection with what’s considered to be the first resorbable wireless electronic implant.
The wireless implant, made of silk and magnesium, delivered heat to infected tissue in the mice by a remote wireless signal. After the wireless treatment, the device harmlessly dissolved in the mice. This breakthrough research was recently published online the week of November 24-28, 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The implantable medical device market is expected to increase 8% annually to $73.9 billion by 2018 according to a new report by Transparency Market Research.
Typically, implantable medical devices have used non-degradable materials that have a limited lifespan which leads to frequent removal or replacement. But a new range of wireless therapy devices made from silk protein and other dissolvable substances are strong enough to survive mechanical handling during surgery as well as harmlessly dissolve within minutes or weeks.
Each wireless implant was made with a magnesium, power-receiving coil (heater) sheathed in what researchers call a silk “pocket”. The silk pocket protects the electronics and controls the timeframe for dissolving.
Researchers report the tissue collected from the mice 24 hours after treatment showed no sign of infection. Surrounding tissues around the infection was also normal. After 15 days, the wireless devices completely dissolved with magnesium levels at the implant site and surrounding areas comparable to levels typically found throughout the body.
“This is an important demonstration step forward for the development of on-demand medical devices that can be turned on remotely to perform a therapeutic function in a patient and then safely disappear after their use, requiring no retrieval,” said senior author Fiorenzo Omenetto, professor of biomedical engineering and Frank C. Doble professor at Tufts School of Engineering. “These wireless strategies could help manage post-surgical infection, for example, or pave the way for eventual ‘wi-fi’ drug delivery.”