TECH SA: UTSA, SwRI working on biodegradable device to treat illnesses

By Tiffany Huertas - Video Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - University of Texas at San Antonio researchers are developing a biodegradable device that, when injected into a patient’s body, could deliver medicine to tumor sites and even treat cancer.

Since 2017, UTSA assistant professor of mechanical engineering R. Lyle Hood and UTSA graduate research assistant Priya Jain have been working on the project with Southwest Research Institute.

“The name for the device is multi-stage polymer delivery system,” Hood said.

They have been working on the project inside UTSA’s Medical Design Innovations Lab.

“When you put it inside your body, it will kind of degrade, fall (to) pieces over time. And that’s how the drug release happens,” Jain said.

In other words, a personalized dose of medicine is injected inside the body and can treat arthritis, cancer or AIDS. It’s all created by a 3D printer.

“We are 3D printing a device basically to customize it to each patient," Jain said. "So different patients have drug needs. They will need different amounts dosages. The reason we are 3D printing it (is) so that we can individualize the treatment for each patient."

It’s still a work in progress, but the team is confident they will master this new way of treating illnesses in the near future.

“For this to actually be used to treat a patient, three to four years,” Hood said.

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