Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation funds Ohio State electromagnetic insulin micro-pump

Posted: September 13, 2019

photo of Liang Guo and Ruike Renee Zhao
Liang Guo and Ruike "Renee" Zhao
More than 30 million children and adults suffer from diabetes in America today. The goal for treatment is to find new ways to safely deliver insulin and prevent health complications like nerve damage, blindness or stroke.

In this effort, 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.

Watch a short video of the team discussing the research.

Ohio State Assistant Professor Liang Guo, principal investigator on the proposal, said the collaborative team’s project, “Tetherless Magnetic Actuated Micropump for Continuous Intraperitoneal Insulin Infusion,” outlines the pump concept, powered only by a magnetic field.  

Guo said the ultimate goal is to come up with a reliable implant, with minimal impact on the patient.

“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.”

Sharing roles in both Ohio State’s electrical and computer engineering program, as well as neuroscience program, Guo explains how miniaturizing the implantable micropump makes it more feasible and efficient to provide patients with continuous and safe insulin. 

Ohio State Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Assistant Professor Ruike "Renee" Zhao, co-principal investigator on the project, explains the technology.  

“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. Since the magnetic field provides a way for remote actuation, it opens many possibilities for the development of minimally invasive biomedical devices.” she said. 

The three advantages of using the magnetic soft material in this way, she said, is that it allows for miniaturization within the body. 

photo of people working in a lab
“It also provides a very fast response rate and is very durable,” Zhao said.

Ideally, Guo said, smaller is always better when it comes to implanting technology. The miniaturized device becomes safer for the diabetic patient, preventing possible tissue damage at the implant site. 

“A smaller implant may also look cosmetically better than a larger one,” he said.

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,” he said.

Other collaborators on the project include fellow electrical and computer engineering Professor Asimina Kiourti, Ohio State Internal Medicine Professor Kathleen Dungan and co-principal investigator Professor Minglin Ma of Cornell University.

by Ryan Horns, ECE/IMR communications specialist (horns.1@osu.edu)

Category: Faculty