In the future, intra-body systems may be able to provide early diagnoses of potential health issues. And, as if that wasn’t enough, these systems will be able to dispense the necessary medication. The project BioCom Lab is currently investigating the new possibilities offered by this increasingly advanced technology
Norrköping is currently home to the thinktank whose work may lead to the diagnostics and treatments of the future. Thanks to circumstances that include access to a number of exclusive patents, BioCom Lab is in a unique position to carry out this innovative work.
“Developments in healthcare are increasingly moving towards more personalised solutions. Intra-body systems can sense developments within the body – even before the symptoms manifest themselves. Thanks to machine learning, these systems will then be capable of taking autonomous measures to resolve the problem,” says Astrid Armgarth, a researcher at Linköping University.
May prevent epileptic seizures
One example of potential use is treating epileptic seizures. With time, artificial intelligence should be able to learn the patterns individual sufferers follow prior to a seizure and then directly administer the right dose of medication at the right location in the body. Another application may be the alleviation of chronic pain through the delivery of analgesics precisely to the area of greatest benefit; something that could also reduce doses and side-effects.
“We are looking at the whole picture; sensors, contacts and other components that are either already available or at the development stage. We then consider what we can do with them; how can these components work together in a useful manner,” explains Roman Lassnig, project manager at RISE.
Ion pump controls dosing of medication
The project has a head start in that it has access to a patent for something known as an ion transporter or ion pump. These can be introduced into the body to control dosing of medication. Trials have been conducted on rats, in which pain levels were successfully reduced when the ion-transporting devices were introduced. BioCom Lab is a world leader in the ion pump technology, attracting attention in a number of high-ranking scientific journals.
“One of the aims of the project is to develop systems to a point where they are approaching approval for human clinical trials. Perhaps we will even get all the way there,” says Roman Lassnig.
Researchers at BioCom Lab are very hands-on, both with regard to system components and their interaction, and the possibilities created by the new technology.
“This work is truly groundbreaking,” says Astrid Armgarth.
A five-year project for the purpose of studying smart, intra-body systems that are capable of collecting data, communicating and treating the host.
The project is financed by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF). Funding also comes from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Önnesjö Foundation, Linköping University and Norrköping Science Park.
Participating partners include RISE, Linköping University and Karolinska University Hospital.