Saturday, February 25, 2006

Drug Delivery Man!

The idea for a "pharmacy on a chip" came to Robert Langer one evening about 10 years ago. What if you implanted an electronic device to control the distribution of drugs in the body? This simple question triggered mountains of research that should change how medications are administered.

Langer, 57, a professor of chemical and biomedical engineering, is so creative, and so astonishingly prolific, that it is hard to imagine another scientist so poised to have a major impact in so many ways, over the next decade!
He has generated more than 300 patents (with another 250 pending), authored or coauthored more than 800 articles in scientific journals, cofounded more than a dozen biotech companies, and licensed his lab's discoveries to more than 150 others. His work encompasses biomedical plastics, drug development, gene therapy, and tissue engineering.

But Langer's specialty is drug delivery. His challenge: The body instinctivley resists foreign objects, so it dilutes or alters many drugs before they get to their destination. So Langer created unconventional ways of safely getting medicine where it belongs.

With the help of John Santini, one of the 60 or so "brainiacs" in his MIT lab, he is making the new electronic drug chip a reality. Residing under the skin, it consists of thousands of tiny, individual sealed reservoirs containing one or more drugs. These reservoirs can be programmed to open at a specific time or operated by a wireless remote control; an electrical impulse melts a gold seal, releasing the well's contents.
Note from Technophile: Testing in humans should begin in a couple of years. It's an elegant solution, one Langer believes will improve millions of lives. Langer says that he would "rather do revolutionary than evolutionary work". I like this guy!
:: Source: [Langer Lab]


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