November 25, 2010
School of Engineering, Bengaluru
The necessity of a syringe to deliver drugs to a patient might soon be relegated to the past, thanks to the research of Dr. Rakesh S. G., Associate Dean of Amrita School of Engineering at Bengaluru.
Dr. Rakesh has been working in partnership with Prof. G. Jagadeesh of the Indian Institute of Sciences, Department of Aerospace Engineering, to create a technology that has the potential to spark a revolution in modern medicine.
The duo have developed a micro blast wave assisted fluid delivery device, that offers a painless and patient-friendly drug delivery method. It also provides an alternative to the relatively high cost of needles and their lack of reusability.
“The experimental setup consists of a thin metal foil, one side coated with the drugs and the other side having a small, hollow plastic tube with its inner surface coated with explosives,” explained Dr. Rakesh. “The drug to be delivered is prepared in a special manner by first mixing the drug particles with ethyl alcohol which is then allowed to dry for a few minutes. This is then coated with tungsten.”
The process may sound complicated but the researchers were able to create a safe, controlled and tiny explosion from the open end of the plastic tube that resulted in a micro blast wave. When this blast wave hit the metal foil, particles on the metal surface were accelerated and hit the target.
A high speed camera studied the characteristics of the micro blast wave. The experiment was first performed on agarose which enabled the study the depth of penetration, dispersion, surface distribution and percentage of penetration. Agarose is simply a polysaccharide that substituted for skin, in this case.
Subsequently, the process was also tested with living mice.
“We were successfully able to deliver in a non-intrusive manner Salmonella Typhimurium bacteria into living mice,” stated Dr. Rakesh. “We had the assistance of Dr. Dipshikha Chakravortty and Dr. Sandeep from the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at IISc.”
The researchers also tested the process on plants, including the potato tuber, pepper plant and araches hypogeal, demonstrating that the methodology could be used for curing diseases in plants by applying medicines only to that particular section of the plant that was infected.
“There are potentially so many other applications of this technique,” summed up Dr. Rakesh. “This can help with the treatment of cancer and injection of DNA in transgenic organisms.”