When the latest treatments failed to defeat her father's cancer, electrical engineer Ada Poon, PhD, knew she wanted to do apply her skills to help someone else who was suffering. She explains in a recent Stanford Engineering article:
This incident let me realize how helpless a patient could be... I didn’t want to spend my career just to build gadgets for entertainment or for leisure.
Knowing next-to-nothing about medicine or biology, Poon, a Hong Kong native, came to Stanford where she is now an associate professor of electrical engineering, eager to enter a new, rapidly evolving field: electroceuticals. These devices, sometimes implanted, other times worn as patches, deliver treatments and monitor the results.
Thanks to the multidisciplinary collaborations available at Stanford, her team has been prolific. From the article:
One minuscule prototype is designed to swim through a patient’s circulatory system to deliver drugs or perform tests. Another is a pacemaker smaller than a grain of rice. It can be recharged when necessary by holding a credit-card-sized power transmitter up to the chest.
Currently, Poon is helping to design a wireless biosensor that could continuously monitor the drug concentration in the bloodstream of chemotherapy patients, so that the dose can be self-regulated and save patients from excessive exposure to the toxic chemicals.
She anticipates that patient-targeted patches, rather than pills, will be used to treat many diseases in the future — the epitome of precision health.
Previously: Miniature wireless device aids pain studies, Stanford researchers demonstrate feasibility of ultra-small, wirelessly powered cardiac device and New retinal implant could restore sight
Photo by Linda Cicero