Future therapy with the electronic ion pump

Is it possible to treat chronic pain,
actively prevent epilepsy, or avert heart attacks before they strike? Technology developed in a collaborative effort between the Laboratory of Organic Electronics
at Linköping University and RISE can make it possible. It is called an electronic ion pump. The electronic ion pump is one of the most precise
drug delivery devices ever made. It is being developed for a wide range of
medical applications and conditions. Instead of swallowing a pill or injecting a fluid, the ion pump dispatches only the charged drug molecules electronically and directly to a specific group of cells or region
of your body. With this precision, it is possible to greatly reduce or even eliminate many of a drug’s unwanted side effects. It is also fast. As opposed to edible or injectable drugs that can
take up to 30min to take effect, the electronic ion pump can begin delivering the drug directly to the target site within hundredths of a second. By integrating sensors and digital controls with the electronic ion pump, an oncoming problem can be detected and prevented from ever starting. So how does it work? The electronic ion pump is powered by a battery
and controlled electronically. Upon activation, the battery generates an electric field that the charged drug molecules can feel. By regulating the strength of the electric field, it is possible to control how fast the drug is transported, and ultimately, how much drug is delivered. In principal, for every electron provided by the battery, precisely one drug molecule gets pushed
out of the pump. A key component of the electronic ion pump
is the device’s drug delivery channel. The drug delivery channel is made from a
special class of polymer material that contains a high density of charged ions
anchored to the polymer itself. Not only does the delivery channel facilitate
transport of the charged drug molecules, but it’s anchored ions also perform the critical function of separating the drug from the surrounding fluids
and other charged molecules present. This separation process distinguishes
the electronic ion pump from other drug delivery methods by ensuring that it is only the desired drug
molecules that are delivered. In a fraction of a second the electronic ion pump can deliver a drug to any specific area of your body with molecular precision. By monitoring the signals from your body, someday soon, medical conditions such as heart attacks and epilepsy could be sensed and treated on-demand
before symptoms ever arise.

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