Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have unveiled a groundbreaking drug delivery system called the Spatiotemporal On-Demand Patch (SOP).

Resembling a comfortable Band-Aid, the SOP features a thin, soft platform and can receive wireless commands from smartphones or computers to schedule and trigger drug release from microneedles. Tested in mice using melatonin to improve sleep, the patch’s design aims to enhance comfort for chronically ill patients.

The patch’s application extends beyond sleep aid, as its potential to deliver on-demand treatments for neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, has been highlighted.

The University, along with the National Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, has provided funding for a $25,000 pilot project to test the SOP in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s Disease. The patch offers highly localized treatment with a treatment area of less than 1 square millimeter, enabling specific treatment to tissue organs or regions within the body.

One of the remarkable features of the SOP is its rapid drug release capability, triggered within 30 seconds in response to an electrical signal. This feature is crucial in emergency situations or when immediate therapeutic action is required.

The microneedles of the SOP are coated with gold to protect both the drugs and surrounding tissues. The gold coating disintegrates upon application of a low-voltage electrical stimulus through the patch, initiating a controlled release of the drugs.

Co-author Yihang Wang emphasizes the device’s specificity in drug delivery, catering to the precise needs of different conditions or specific regions of the body. The SOP’s ability to house and automatically release dozens, if not hundreds, of concentrated drugs offers a novel approach to controlled drug release, combining materials science and electrical engineering.

With a provisional patent secured, the SOP could revolutionize patient care by allowing individuals to wear multiple patches simultaneously, potentially reducing the need for frequent medical visits. The innovation represents a significant step forward in personalized and targeted drug delivery systems, holding promise for various medical applications.

Article written by Bert Rachel Klemovitch