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JDRF supports team developing electromagnetic insulin micro-pump

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) recently awarded researchers at The Ohio State University up to $330,000 for their proposal to miniaturize an implantable insulin pump to work automatically within the body.

Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Assistant Professor Liang Guo said the collaborative team’s project, “Tetherless Magnetic Actuated Micropump for Continuous Intraperitoneal Insulin Infusion,” will focus on developing a pump powered only by a magnetic field, with minimal impact on the patient.

Liang Guo research team in lab“We propose a new technology that uses magnetically-controlled material, so we can miniaturize the device dimensions,” he said. “This kind of product can greatly ease the daily management of blood glucose in the patient population.” He added that miniaturizing the implantable micropump makes it more feasible and efficient to provide patients with continuous and safe insulin. 

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Assistant Professor Renee Zhao is co-principal investigator on the project.  

“We apply a very small amount of magnetic field so that the material can have a bending motion to press the balloon and release the drug," Zhao said. "Since the magnetic field provides a way for remote actuation, it opens many possibilities for the development of minimally invasive biomedical devices."

According to Guo, smaller is always better when it comes to implanting technology. In addition to cosmetic advantages, a miniaturized device can be safer for the diabetic patient, preventing possible tissue damage at the implant site. 

The next phase, Guo said, is testing the device in small diabetic animals. 

“Our goal in this project is to demonstrate these functional advantages in a rat diabetic model within two years. If this research is successful, we plan to move to a large animal model afterward."

Other collaborators on the project include fellow ECE Professor Asimina Kiourti, Internal Medicine Professor Kathleen Dungan, and co-PI Professor Minglin Ma of Cornell University.

edited version of original article on Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering web site