5 Advances in Drug Delivery Systems That Illustrate Industry 4.0 Themes

drug delivery systems
Lisa S. | Shutterstock.com

In recent years, the development of new drug delivery systems has witnessed significant growth. Pharmaceutical companies and laboratories have devoted substantial R&D budgets to develop and integrate novel drug delivery devices.

“It’s going to seem backwards and even barbaric that our solution to everything was just giving out pills,” said Vijay Pande of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

New Drug Delivery Systems take advantage of existing infrastructures. Pure Industry 4.0.Click To Tweet

Edgy Labs has brought to you five of the latest advances in drug delivery systems:

1. Sensor Patch Against the Discomfort and Pain of Leaky IVs

Patients in critical condition or those with a chronic condition often need an IV as a drug delivery system. If the cannula is misplaced or unstable, leakage can happen, causing pain, swelling, and even tissue death.

drug delivery systems
Children’s Cancer Center at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore. | Archimedicx.com

Researchers at A*STAR, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, have teamed up with clinicians from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore to develop an adhesive sensor capable of detecting as little as 2 ml of leaked drugs. This new patch would save patients from the pain and discomfort of leaky intravenous drips.

2. Delivering Drugs to Brain via a Nasal Spray

The development of drugs targeting the brain faces a serious obstacle: the passage of the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) which forms an extremely selective and very impermeable wall against foreign substances.

drug delivery systems
The Blood-Brain Barrier | Kurzweilai.net

Engineers from Washington University in St. Louis has found a way to bypass the BBB and make delivering drugs to the brain as easy as taking a nasal decongestant. Using nanoparticles, aerosol technology and locusts, they developed a non-invasive aerosol method to deliver drugs to the brain.

According to the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, the nasal spray system could deliver therapeutic nanoparticles to the brain within 30 minutes to one hour. These sorts of drug delivery systems could revolutionize how we treat brain related disorders.

3. Self-Assembling Nanotubes

A team of researchers from Lund University in Sweden and Vilnius University in Lithuania has developed self-assembling nanotubes from a single building block (molecular self-recognition).

These nanotubes can adapt to the surrounding environment and change their shape accordingly. The results can contribute to the future development of the transport channels for drugs through cell membranes.

A paper on their study was published in the journal Nature.

4. Biomimicry of Insect Fluid-Feeding Methods

Butterflies and flies absorb nectar in a way that could be used as a model to enhance drug delivery systems.

This is what is revealed in a recent study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

drug delivery systems
Matthew Lehnert of Kent State University | Newsstand.clemson.edu

The study of Professor Matthew Lehnert and his team at Kent State University shows that fluid feeding systems of flies and butterflies could be imitated to create new drug delivery systems for the human body.

More specifically, fluid-feeding insects have specialized mouthparts that, thanks to capillary action, pull fluid from source to the head. Researchers think the mouthparts of fluid-feeding insects can serve as models for developing more efficient DDSs.

5. Sperm as a Drug Delivery Vehicle for Female Patients

Okay, bear with us.

Researchers at the Institute for Integrative Nanosciences in Germany tested sperm as a potential vehicle to deliver drugs in the female reproductive tract. In their research paper, published in arXiv, researchers described how they would use sperm as a motor to drive drug-delivery micro-robots.

drug delivery systems
German Spermbots, attack! | Extremetech.com

In the search for an egg to fertilize, sperm cells move so randomly that they have been deemed unfit for drug delivery.

Yet, IIN researchers developed a steering method allowing them to remote-control sperm cells via a magnetic field.

The researchers cover sperm cells with an iron-coated helmet and, using an external magnet, they would steer sperm cells until they reach tumor cells. The helmet breaks off, allowing the sperm cell to penetrate the targeted cell as it would an egg and deliver the drug.

As crazy as it sounds, these drug delivery systems could actually be the spark we need to move away from mass-produced, pill-based medicines.

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