Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Biodegradable Medical Device

PostedFebruary 9, 2020

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Lede: Engineers have created the first medical device that simply dissolves in the body after its job is done.

Randy Atkins: Dissolving sutures are commonplace…but John Rogers, an engineer at Northwestern University, has now taken temporary medical tools much further.

John Rogers: Instead of a passive piece of material, we have full-blown electronic functionality with high-performance capabilities.

Randy Atkins: Rogers’ biodegradable implant uses electric signals to promote nerve regeneration following surgery.

John Rogers: We designed devices that are mechanically flexible so that when located around a nerve where there’s lots of motion of adjacent tissues, there’s no sort of adverse mechanically-induced irritation.

Randy Atkins: And Rogers says it’s very biocompatible, made of materials naturally occurring in the body …

John Rogers: …so it operates stably for a few weeks, takes a few months to completely resorb and disappear.

Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.

Tag: While early tests have been successful, such devices are several years away from use in humans.