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Switching drugs on and off with magnetism

Researchers at Children's Hospital Boston have devised a technique that aims to deliver medication to patients on an as-needed basis for an extended period of time.

Here's how it works:

When a magnetic field near the device turns on, the nanoparticles heat up, collapsing the gels in the membrane so that the drug can pass through the open pores. When the field turns off, the cooling membrane causes the gels to re-expand, thereby cutting off the drug.

While the initial research looks promising, it will likely be some time before it can be used in humans. Still, National Institute of General Medical Sciences program director Alison Cole, PhD, says:

This technology has the potential to provide precise, repeated, long-term, on-demand delivery of drugs for a number of medical applications, including the management of pain.


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