Northwestern University and Carnegie Mellon University researchers have made significant progress toward developing an implantable living pharmacy that can control sleep/wake cycles. The team has created a device that generates oxygen on-site, ensuring the cells within the implant remain alive and functional for extended periods. This breakthrough has promising implications for cell-based therapies, drug delivery, and wound healing.
The device, called the electrocatalytic on-site oxygenator (ecO2), uses electricity to split water molecules that bathe the cells, producing oxygen without generating harmful byproducts. By adjusting the amount of electricity used, researchers can regulate the amount of oxygen produced. In tests, the ecO2 successfully kept cells alive for up to a month in low oxygen conditions in vitro and for weeks in vivo. Without the device, cell survival after 10 days was only 20%. However, the researchers believe that the cells’ ability to produce drugs would be compromised long before cell death occurs. They are confident that with advancements in wireless power and communication, the ecO2 could potentially operate for several months or more.
The development of the ecO2 is a significant step towards the creation of an implantable living pharmacy that can continuously produce drugs without needing to be refilled. The ability to generate oxygen on-site is crucial for biohybrid cell therapies, which require a high metabolic demand for cell functionality. The device would integrate seamlessly, generating oxygen from the water itself, improving outcomes for cell-based therapies.
Northwestern’s Jonathan Rivnay, who co-led the study, highlighted the potential of cell-based therapies in various areas such as wound healing, obesity, diabetes, and cancer treatments. The continuous production of therapeutics within the body eliminates the need for medication adherence and injections, providing a convenient and effective solution for patients.
The collaboration between Northwestern University and Carnegie Mellon University combines synthetic biology with bioelectronics. The team is working with Professor Omid Veiseh from Rice University to produce therapeutics within the implant. Ensuring the longevity of the engineered cells is crucial for creating these life-saving devices. Prior research has explored oxygen delivery methods, but they often involved bulky equipment that is not practical for internal use. The ecO2 device offers a compact and efficient solution for maintaining cell viability.
In conclusion, the development of the ecO2 device represents a significant advancement in the field of implantable living pharmacies. By generating oxygen on-site, cells can remain alive and functional for extended periods, allowing for continuous production of therapeutics. This breakthrough has the potential to revolutionize cell-based therapies, drug delivery, and wound healing, providing more convenient and effective treatment options for patients. Further research and development are needed to fully optimize the ecO2 device for long-term applications.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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