Tag Archives: biomolecular manufacturing

Life of Biomedical Gadgets

Prolonging Life of Biomedical Gadgets by Improving Adhesion with Electrografting

Modern-age humans have found a way to coexist with technology to the point where they have become crucial to life, as in the case of pacemakers, or otherwise made life easier, e.g. artificial limbs, cochlear implants, and smart technology-based wearables. To help ensure longevity of implanted biomedical devices, a scientist from University of Delaware (UD), along with a team of engineers, have developed an electrografting surface modification method that improves adhesion between biological neural tissue and inorganic surfaces.

In order for implanted devices to function properly within the body, successful interface, or communication, between nervous system components (largely directed by the brain) and the mechanical object has to occur. Scientists have been exploring a conjugated polymer called PEDOT, or poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), for its potential role as the interface. However, in experiments PEDOT was found to have limited adhesive properties to solid substrates, or mechanical devices. As a result, harmful residue can deposit into surrounding tissue, thereby shortening the lifespan of the device.

Adhesion by electrografting surface modification is the solution concocted by the UD scientists. Electrograft is an electrochemical oxidation-reduction reaction by which organic molecules attach to solid conducting substrates by forming a metallorganic bond at the substrate-polymer interface. The conventional process usually takes several steps, but the scientists have created a two-step method that produces a strong PEDOT film that tightly bonds organic tissue to metal objects, while maintaining electrical activity, or communication, between the two components. Another advantage of using electrografts is that a wide variety of materials can be used as the conducting substrate, including gold, platinum, nickel, stainless steel, silicon, metal oxides, and glassy carbon.

With increasing dependence on biotechnology to keep humans alive, extending the life of biomedical gadgets becomes increasingly vital. With enhanced adhesive properties of PEDOT via electrografting, both staying alive and staying alive longer can be achievable.

Portable Vaccine Kit

Portable Vaccine Kits Can Be Transported to High-Risk Areas Without Power to Create On-the-Spot Vaccines by Just Adding Water

For vaccines to be effective, a continual chain of refrigeration is important to keep them viable. In areas where power sources are limited or nonexistent, such as developing nations, or in areas where elaborate medical equipment isn’t found for miles around, a portable vaccine kit could be the turning key to keeping an epidemic in check, thus saving many lives.

A team of researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute sought out to create a practical and mobile method to create medical treatments anywhere. A portable system was developed that enables the technician to produce an essential biomolecule as needed without requiring the aid of a refrigerator or a laboratory—instead, simply add water.

At the core of the scientists’ “portable biomolecular manufacturing kit” are two freeze-dried pellets that can be mixed and matched to create different compounds that cater to specific treatment modalities. Water is the only component needed to rehydrate and mix the ingredients. The pellets have a shelf life of at least a year, potentially longer.

The pellets come in two forms: reaction pellets and instruction pellets. The former contains no cells and genetic material and acts as the base that can be used to generate different drugs, whereas the instruction pellets contain DNA instructions to direct the reaction pellet and thus specifies the type of medication to produce. By combining the two pellets with water, a vast array of vaccines, antibacterial peptides, and antibody conjugates can be manufactured on the spot. Therapy from the rehydrated pellets can be administered orally, topically, or as injections to treat food poisoning, prevent wounds from getting infected, and dispense vaccines during a viral outbreak, such as influenza.

The portable vaccine kit is also an inexpensive biomolecular manufacturing kit at approximately three cents per microliter. Apart from its clinical use, researchers and students can use the kits for study purposes when state-of-the-art facilities and appliances are inaccessible.