Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Smartphone Drug Delivery

PostedMarch 26, 2020

Lede: Brain implants can treat diseases ranging from Parkinson’s to depression, but patients must generally be tethered to machines. The key to a new solution might be in your pocket.

Randy Atkins: Researchers are now experimenting with tiny probes that can monitor brain function and deliver targeted treatments using a smart phone. Michael Bruchas, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, is working with Korean engineers on a wearable system with drugs in printer ink-like cartridges.

Michael Bruchas: Essentially there’s a cartridge system, there’s a pump system, and there’s a way that you can control that through a Bluetooth connection.

Randy Atkins: The probes can be placed precisely, with less damage to surrounding tissue...and provide a path for drugs to be pumped to specific brain sites.

Michael Bruchas: Pick up the smartphone and you can control what’s happening at the level of the brain from a far distance away in the room next door for example.

Randy Atkins: Bruchas admits some might not be comfortable with such remote control medicine, but he says using this on humans is still years away. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.

Bruchas lab