The new device developed by the researchers inflates and deflates for five minutes every 12 hours. Along with this mechanical deviation, it prevents immune cells from accumulating near implantable devices.
“We’re using this type of motion to extend the lifetime and the efficacy of these implanted reservoirs that can deliver drugs like insulin, and we think this platform can be extended beyond this application,” says Ellen Roche, the Latham Family Career Development Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and a member of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.
Research continues on whether this developed device can also be used as a “bioartificial pancreas” to help treat diabetes.
Roche is the co-senior author of the study with Eimear Dolan, a former postdoc in her lab who is now a faculty member at the National University of Ireland at Galway. Garry Duffy, also a professor at NUI Galway, is a key collaborator on the work, which appears in Nature Communications. MIT postdocs William Whyte and Debkalpa Goswami, and visiting scholar Sophie Wang, are the paper’s lead authors. The research was funded, in part, by Science Foundation Ireland, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.
Fibrous capsule (FC) formation, secondary to the foreign body response (FBR), impedes molecular transport and is detrimental to the long-term efficacy of implantable drug delivery devices, especially when tunable, temporal control is necessary. We report the development of an implantable mechanotherapeutic drug delivery platform to mitigate and overcome this host immune response using two distinct, yet synergistic soft robotic strategies. Firstly, daily intermittent actuation (cycling at 1 Hz for 5 minutes every 12 hours) preserves long-term, rapid delivery of a model drug (insulin) over 8 weeks of implantation, by mediating local immunomodulation of the cellular FBR and inducing multiphasic temporal FC changes. Secondly, actuation-mediated rapid release of therapy can enhance mass transport and therapeutic effect with tunable, temporal control. In a step towards clinical translation, we utilize a minimally invasive percutaneous approach to implant a scaled-up device in a human cadaveric model. Our soft actuatable platform has potential clinical utility for a variety of indications where transport is affected by fibrosis, such as the management of type 1 diabetes.