Researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) are currently working on integrating therapeutic drugs into polymer fibers that can release them into the skin as needed. The smart fibers are able to recognize the need for therapy all by themselves and dose the active ingredients with great precision. The researchers believe in the future, this technology could be used to administer pain medication as soon as an injury occurs during sports, or release an antibiotic as soon as a wound form on the skin.
“The targeted use of the fiber determines which manufacturing process is best,” explains Empa researcher and project coordinator René Rossi.
“The properties of these new materials are currently being investigated with test substances,” she added.
To make the fibers, researchers are using biodegradable polymers and making them release the drugs that are embedded within them in a controlled manner.
To ensure that the active ingredients dosage is precise, the researchers devised a tricky control mechanism; as some polymers are degradable by the body under certain conditions, they could use this property specifically. “In response to a stimulus from the body, the fibers should release their drugs into the environment at a calculated degradation rate,” Rossi explains.
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