Developed by scientists at NASA to treat their astronauts while on a space mission, this tiny device can release medicine on its own.
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Gizmodo has a fascinating story on an implant, the Biocapsule, developed by NASA to treat astronauts while they are on a space mission. The device, a small rod to be implanted under the skin before take-off, is made out of carbon nanotubes and is filled with cells that release a substance once a certain trigger activates them.
The cells are trapped within the capsule while substances are released by diffusion across the capsule wall, which is also the way nutritients can get in. The capsules could be capable of delivering multiple doses over a long period of time. The nanostructures are inert, making them well-tolerated by the body, and the Biocapsules themselves are inexpensive and easy to make.
One example application given is that of exposure to high levels of radiation in outer space: The device could be filled with cells that sense the increased levels of radiation and automatically disperse medicine to help the body compensate. Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) might be a candidate drug for this, as it is already used to treat cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment. Other potential triggers could be heat exposure, exhaustion, and sleep-deprivation.