Device dissolves completely in the body on its own after delivery
Team led by Prof. Koo Ja-hyun develops wirelessly controlled, bioresorbable drug delivery platform
Joint research with Seoul National University, Northwestern University, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Published in leading international journal Science Advances



구자현 교수팀


A Korean medical engineering research team succeeded in developing a medical device platform that delivers drugs to target areas and disappears on its own via dissolution.

The team led by Professor Koo Ja-hyun of the School of Biomedical Engineering under the College of Health Science at Korea University worked with Professor Kang Seung-kyun of Seoul National University, Dr. Choi Yeon-sik of Northwestern University, and Dr. Kim Sung-bong of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to develop an electronic medical device that directly delivers low doses of a drug within the body over one to two weeks, and dissolves after a few months. .

The results were published online in the leading international journal Science Advances (IF:13.116) on August 28.

The proposed bioresorbable drug delivery device can be controlled wirelessly after insertion into the body, and does not involve separate removal surgery since it undergoes complete dissolution. The device is particularly useful for pain treatments or cancer treatments performed on a regular basis. It minimizes adverse effects by delivering lower doses to target areas than conventional injections, and does not require additional surgery, even with repeated drug treatments. Furthermore, secondary surgical risks and costs are eliminated as the device disappears on its own at the end of treatment.

The team developed a drug delivery device that is flexible and only 500 μm thick by developing ultra-thin silicon and bioresorbable polymer matrices that break down safely within the body over a few months.

Similar to commercial bioresorbable sutures, the proposed bioresorbable drug delivery device will usher in a new era of drug treatment, enabling patients to directly receive small doses in the comfort of their homes and as needed after device implantation.

The team expects the wireless, bioresorbable drug delivery technique to prove useful for diabetes, pain mitigation, and cancer treatment. Two years ago, Professor Koo Ja-hyun (Korea University) and Professor Kang Seung-kyun (Seoul National University) developed the world’s first bioresorbable electronic system for neurogenerative therapy, and published the results in Nature Medicine (IF=36.130). The recent success of the drug delivery device reflects Korea’s high promise in the bioresorbable electronic device market.

Choi Yeon-sik (Northwestern University) and Kim Sung-bong (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), who worked together to prove the effectiveness of the world’s first bioresorbable drug delivery medical device, look forward to seeing more Korean researchers playing a pivotal role in the field of bioresorbable medical devices.

Professor Koo Ja-hyun of Korea University said, “Our device integrates bioresorbable electronic medical technology and wireless communication, and this is an indicator of the advent of the age of personalized drug delivery. The proposed device is capable of releasing a relatively small volume directly to the target area. The significance of our study lies in minimizing adverse effects, and in developing an effective, non-face-to-face medical technique.”

This study received a grant by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF 2020R1F1A1068083).




◆ Terminology ◆ 

∘ Bioresorbable material - A biocompatible material that breaks down in the body, and is absorbed as a nutrient or released outside the body.
∘ Silicon ultra-thin film - Silicon ultra-thin film only 100 nm thick maintains the properties of semiconductors, and can be broken down in the body in a period of a few weeks to a few months
∘ Minimally invasive surgery - Minimizes incisions on the body during surgery, reduces surgery-related risks and inconveniences by minimizing the sizes of incisions, bleeding, the number of surgeries, and post-surgery recovery time.

◆ Figure Description ◆  


▲Fig. 1. Conceptual diagram of wirelessly controlled drug delivery device



▲Fig. 2. Operation of wirelessly controlled drug delivery device, and dissolution of the system



▲Fig. 3. Schematic diagram and photo of the wireless, bioresorbable drug delivery device applied to a rat model
Schematic diagram of the multi-drug delivery device that enables users to release the same drug on a regular basis, or to independently control each chamber when mixing different drugs.



▲Fig. 4. Pain mitigation effect verified by applying the wireless, bioresorbable drug delivery device to the sciatic nerve of a rat model
Patients experiencing pain can administer pain medication on their own via wireless communication. The proposed device releases smaller doses than typical injections, thereby preventing drug misuse and abuse.