Light-Controlled Drug Delivery
An international team has developed and tested a prototype of an optically enhanced hydrogel
patch system that could enable disease monitoring
and therapy via implants under the skin.
Polymer hydrogels are well-known for their
promising biochemical and biophysical properties
in medical applications. Myunghwan Choi of Harvard Medical School (U.S.A.) and colleagues developed a polymer hydrogel waveguide patch lit by a
491-nm blue light delivered through an optical fiber
(Nature Photon. doi: 10.1038/nphoton.2013.278). The
team implanted the hydrogel patch under the skin
of free-to-move diabetic mice.
The hydrogel contained genetically engineered
cells that secrete an antidiabetic protein called
glucagon-like peptide- 1 upon light absorption,
which enables control of dosage and timing of drug
delivery. The researchers were able to successfully measure and stabilize glucose blood levels in
mice with the implanted device. The hydrogel also
contained cells modified to produce a fluorescent
protein in response to toxicity, which enabled the
team to monitor for cadmium poisoning. Such a
platform may someday be adaptable for diverse
applications in diagnosis and therapy in humans.
Optically stimulated cells treat diabetes under the skin.
S. H. Yun and
of a photo-responsive