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[IP] news article from Penn State


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Prototype Developed for Ultrasonic Patch to Deliver Insulin

November 2002 - Penn State engineers have developed a prototype for an
ultrasound insulin delivery system that is about the size and weight of a
matchbook that can be worn as a patch on the body.

Dr. Nadine Barrie Smith, assistant professor of bioengineering, says, "The new
Penn State ultrasound patch, which operates in the same frequency range as the
large commercially available sonic drug delivery devices, is about an
inch-and-a-half by an inch-and-a-half in size and weighs less than an ounce.
Commercially available sonicators currently have a probe about eight inches
long which weighs over two pounds."

Experiments with human skin and with live rats have shown that the new
ultrasound patch delivers therapeutically effective doses of insulin.

The new prototype is described in detail in "Transducer Design for a Portable
Ultrasound Enhanced Transdermal Drug-Delivery System," published in the
current (October) issue of the IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics,
Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control.

The key to the new ultrasound patch is a "cymbal" transducer developed by Dr.
Robert Newnham, the Alcoa professor emeritus of solid state science. The
transducer produces the sound waves that drive the medication through the skin
and into the blood stream. The cymbal transducer consists of a thin disk of
piezoelectric ceramic material sandwiched between titanium end caps shaped
like cymbals. Four of these transducers are used in the prototype.

A thin reservoir of insulin is placed in front of the cymbal transducer and
when a current is applied, sound waves just above the level of human hearing
push the medication through the skin and into the blood vessels.

Smith notes, "Our experiments with rats show that an exposure of 20 minutes
produced the same result as a 60-minute exposure. So, we are hopeful that,
eventually, we may be able to tune the system so that one to five minutes of
exposure may be enough."

Currently, diabetics must either inject insulin via hypodermic needles or use
a mini-pump with a catheter that remains implanted in their body. Ultrasound
offers a less painful and invasive alternative.

Besides insulin, some medications used to treat AIDS, pain relievers, asthma
drugs, and hormones are deliverable via ultrasound, Smith adds. Those
medications and, perhaps, some others that cannot be taken by mouth, are
candidates for administration via the new ultrasound patch.

Her co-authors are Emiliano Maione, graduate student; Dr. K. Kirk Shung,
professor of bioengineering; Dr. Richard J. Meyer, research associate at Penn
State's Applied Research Laboratory (ARL); Dr. Jack W. Hughes, ARL Senior
scientist and professor of acoustics; Newnham; and Smith. The rat experiments
are described in "Ultrasound Mediated Transdermal in vivo Transport of Insulin
with Low Profile Cymbal Arrays," presented this month at the IEEE 2002
Ultrasonics Symposium in Munich, Germany. The authors are Seungjun Lee,
graduate student, Smith and Shung. The research was supported, in part, with
laboratory start-up funds provided to Smith by the University.

  Source: Penn State

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