College of Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison
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BME MONITOR: The Biomedical Engineering Department Newsletter


2007 Newsletter
Featured articles

Experiential learning: BME undergrad design competition stresses real-world challenges

Research may yield improved treatment of diseased lungs

Translational research: Medicine, hand-delivered

Translational research:
Ultrasound waves reflect tissue mechanics

Translational research: 'Balloon' effect:
Blocking aneurysms

Translational research: For ACL repair,
closing the 'gap'

Translational research: Fast, efficient MR imaging

Translational research: Seven new projects launched

Graduate student service award honors Corrine Bahr

Regular Features

Message from the chair

Faculty news:
David Beebe cited as pioneer of miniaturization

In memoriam:
Prof. Paul Bach-y-Rita

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Engineer-clinician collaborations yield innovative, applied solutions

Funded via the W.H. Coulter Translational Research Partnership in Biomedical Engineering, these research projects recently concluded in year one of the partnership. This partnership fosters early-stage collaborations between University of Wisconsin biomedical engineering researchers and practicing physicians that will enable researchers to deliver their advances more quickly to patients.

Medicine, hand-delivered

David Beebe

David Beebe
(View larger image)

Decorative initial cap Achild’s life is filled with bumps and bruises, and scrapes and cuts—most of which require little more than a thorough cleansing and a bandage. But for a child with hemophilia, even the slightest bump or scrape can trigger a bleeding episode that often ends in a lengthy, anguishing emergency room ordeal. There, the medical staff ultimately injects a clotting factor that circulates through the child’s bloodstream and helps to stop the bleeding. “The child is traumatized, family is traumatized, staff is traumatized and lots of resources have been used,” says Associate Professor of Pediatrics Carol Diamond.

After a few such experiences, she says, parents generally choose the only other alternative: administering the clotting factor at home via a surgically inserted catheter, or port, which opens the body to infection.

Now, however, Diamond, Professor David Beebe and engineer Ben Moga have developed a third option—one that places the power to stop bleeding episodes right in the palm of a child’s hand.

Device for delivering blood factors via palm of hand.

Device for delivering blood factors via palm of hand. (View larger image)

About the size of a poker chip, their disposable device is a cross between a miniature drug pump and a patch. They can configure it to contain a single, tiny needle or a series of microneedles—and they can control whether it delivers the clotting factor in just a few minutes or over several hours.

“What’s so exciting about this drug-delivery device is that, first of all, it will allow a family to administer a drug immediately in their home—safely,” says Diamond. “It is something that can be used in a prophylactic manner—so, at regular intervals, preventatively—for a child. It’s something even for an older child, if they knew they were going to play rigorously, like in a soccer game, they could infuse at home with this device—without intravenous access, without an in-dwelling catheter. This will dramatically improve the patient’s quality of life.”

In its device, the group harnessed the non-electronic power of stimuli-responsive hydrogels, which expand or contract in response to temperature or pH changes in their environment. In a tiny package, the device has a drum reservoir on the bottom and “swellable” hydrogels on top—a concept former Beebe grad student Dave Eddington first demonstrated a few years ago. “Triggering the response of these hydrogels by exposing them to a change in pH, for example, in the solution, would then expand the volume of the hydrogels and simply push the drug out,” says Beebe. He calls the device a platform technology and says the group has demonstrated that it works for closed-loop regulation, making closed-loop delivery—the holy grail of drug delivery—a possibility. Currently, the researchers are conducting animal studies with a bolus delivery prototype and will continue to refine the device for sustained delivery.

In a market that includes mini transdermal pumps, IV injection, infusion pumps, needles or syringes, needleless injections and inhalers, says Beebe, there is high demand for this low-cost drug-delivery system. “There is a growing market for devices that can use sustained delivery on large-protein drugs, so we envision that this might be technology licensed widely to pharmaceutical companies,” says Beebe.

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Copyright 2007 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System

Date last modified: Monday,30-July-2007 15:43:00 CDT
Date created: 30-July-2007



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