Researchers have engineered an electronic drug delivery tool that pumps seizure-stopping molecules directly to the source of the problem in the brain. The device, reported in the journal Science Advances, offers an alternative to conventional, systemic drugs that can cause unwanted side effects throughout the body.
The device, a microfluidic ion pump, uses an electrical potential to move drug molecules from a reservoir on the device across a short channel and out the tip of the device. The pump can be implanted in the brain at the site of a problem, such as a focal point of a seizure, where it will deliver the drug when needed.
The pump technology is based on the concept of electrophoresis: the transport of molecules through a fluid or gel under the influence of an electrical field. When a voltage is applied, electrons withdraw from the source electrode, and positively charged ions—in this case positively charged drug molecules—are driven out of the reservoir, across the ion-conducting membrane, and out of the device for delivery