Taking your daily meds could look a lot different in the future.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have created a wireless device that can be implanted in the brain and controlled with a remote to deliver drugs.
The researchers successfully implanted the device, which is about the width of a hair, into mice for the first time recently, but the technology could one day be used in humans to treat depression, pain, epilepsy and other neurological disorders, according to a statement on the university’s website. The research was recently published in the journal Cell.
The implantable device works by delivering light or drugs to certain parts of the brain. By using targeted drugs that are only delivered to certain regions of the brain, side effects from drugs could potentially become much less severe.
“In the future, it should be possible to manufacture therapeutic drugs that could be activated with light,” said co-principal investigator Michael R. Bruchas, PhD, associate professor of anesthesiology and neurobiology at Washington University in a statement.
“With one of these tiny devices implanted, we could theoretically deliver a drug to a specific brain region and activate that drug with light as needed. This approach potentially could deliver therapies that are much more targeted but have fewer side effects.”
The implanted device, which is soft like brain tissue, has four chambers that can deliver drugs with the push of a button. The device can also be used to activate certain brain cells by using flashes of light, triggered by the remote.