NUI Galway research leads to major implant breathrough

Research represents advance in combatting problems which can lead to the rejection of implanted devices by the human body

Researchers from the National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway ) have today (Thursday ) revealed a significant breakthrough in soft robotics which could help patients requiring implanted medical devices such as breast implants, pacemakers, neural probes, glucose biosensors and drug and cell delivery devices.

The research, details of which are being revealed for the first time this morning, represents a considerable advance in combatting problems which can lead to the rejection of implanted devices by the human body.

These devices are not without problems, caused in part by the body’s own protection responses. These complex and unpredictable foreign body responses impair device function and drastically limit the long-term performance and therapeutic efficacy of these devices.

One such foreign body response is fibrosis, a process whereby a dense fibrous capsule surrounds the implanted device which can cause device failure or impede its function. Implantable medical devices have various failure rates that can be attributed to fibrosis ranging from 30% to 50% for implantable pacemakers or 30% for mammoplasty prosthetics.

A radical new vision for medical devices to address this problem was published today in the internationally respected journal, Science Robotics. The study was led by researchers from NUI Galway, MIT and the SFI research centre AMBER, among others. The research describes the use of soft robotics to modify the body’s response to implanted devices. Soft robots are flexible devices that can be implanted into the body.

The transatlantic partnership of scientists have created a tiny mechanically actuated soft robotic device known as a dynamic soft reservoir (DSR ) that has been shown to significantly reduce the build-up of the fibrous capsule by manipulating the environment at the interface between the device and the body.

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