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The gel has a chemical bond that gets broken on exposure to blue-to-ultraviolet light. However, Raman decided that rather than making a material consisting only of this light-sensitive polymer, she would incorporate stronger components such as polyacrylamide. This would make the material more durable, whilst still allowing it to break or weaken when exposed to a certain wavelength of light.
The material's properties can be changed by varying the gel composition. The more light-sensitive polymer contained in the material, the faster it breaks down, although this break-down rate can also be controlled by using different wavelengths of light. Demonstrating potential applications
The researchers used the new gel, which can easily be molded into various shapes, to demonstrate two potential applications. They molded it into a seal for a bariatric balloon and into an esophageal stent.
The standard bariatric balloons that are used to treat obesity, are inflated and filled with saline while they are in the stomach, where they stay for approximately six months. Unlike these standard balloons, which then need to be removed by endoscopic surgery, the new MIT balloon can be deflated simply by exposing the seal to a tiny LED light, which, in theory, could then be swallowed and passed from the body.
The new balloon also does not need to be inflated once inside the stomach as it is filled with water-absorbent sodium polyacrylate. When Raman and the team tested the new balloon in pigs, it immediately swelled once inside the stomach. On being exposed to a small, ingestible LED emitting blue light for roughly six hours, the balloon slowly began to deflate. When a higher intensity light was used, the material broke down within half-an-hour.
The team also molded the new material into an esophageal stent. Stents are sometimes used to treat conditions that cause a narrowing of the esophagus. The team reports that the light-sensitive stent also easily broke down and was then passed through the digestive tract.
The researchers say this approach could be used to develop other degradable devices, such as GI drug-delivery vehicles.
"This study is a proof of concept that we can create this kind of material, Traverso says…“and now we're thinking about what the best applications for it are.” Source:
Ingestible medical devices can be broken down with light. EurekAlert! 2020. Available at: https://www.eurekalert.org/emb_releases/2020-01/miot-imd011520.php
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