Miniaturized Drug Delivery Systems for Biomedical Applications

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Highly integrated and customizable systems have been a principal focus of development for parenteral and oral drug administration. Extensive work has been done to optimize drug efficacy via localized delivery and dosage control providing new ways for accomplishing targeted therapeutic effects. However, many challenges and opportunities for advancement remain. One promising research path is introducing novel microfabrication methods or engineering discoveries in concept realization, making devices more versatile and effective.

Firstly, this dissertation focuses on designing and fabricating a miniaturized, 3D printed, wirelessly powered drug delivery system for biomedical applications. The drug delivery system is composed of an electrolytic micropump integrated into a 3D printed reservoir equipped with hollow microneedles. The electrolytic pump is composed of interdigitated electrodes and a bellows membrane. A simple and customizable manufacturing process is developed to fabricate miniaturized bellows membranes. To improve the integration of microneedles in microelectromechanical devices, a high-resolution 3D printing technique is implemented to produce a reservoir equipped with an array of hollow microneedles. Penetration tests of microneedles into a skin-like material confirm sufficient stability of microneedles. Furthermore, the microneedle arrays are used to pierce and deliver into mouse skin successfully. The assembled system (electrolytic micropump integrated into the 3D printed reservoir equipped with hollow microneedles) is actuated using inductive wireless powering.

Secondly, this dissertation tackles one of the most challenging diseases, Coronary Artery Disease. Delivering a therapeutic agent directly to the inner wall of affected blood vessels can be a transformative step toward a better treatment option. To open the door for such an approach, a catheter delivery system is developed based on a conventional balloon catheter where a fluidic channel and microneedles are integrated on top of it. This enables precise and localized delivery of therapeutics directly into vessel walls. Ex vivo tests on rabbit aorta confirm the microneedlesupgraded balloon catheter’s performance on real tissue. This study shows that microneedlesupgraded balloon catheter is capable of localized and targeted drug delivery into artery walls. The fabrication process ensures a highly customizable solution that can be tailored to patientspecific requirements. 

Brief Biography

Khalil Moussi received the B.Sc. degree (Hons.) in Electromechanical Engineering and the M.Sc. degree in Robotics from the National Engineering School of Sfax, Tunisia, in 2013 and 2014, respectively. He is currently pursuing the Ph.D. degree in the Electrical and Computer Engineering program at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). He is the 1st place winner of the KAUST Falling Walls competition in 2020. His research interests focus on biomedical devices for drug delivery and MEMS.

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