Long-Term Treatment for Brain Tumors: Sustained Drug Delivery with Iontronic Pumps
Verena Handl a, Franciska Telebar-Žbulj a b, Ian Bogdan a, Iwona Bernacka Wojcik c, Helena Saarela c, Marta Nowakowska e, Sabine Erschen a, Astrid Gorischek a, Tamara Tomin d, Stefan Ropele f, Muammer Ücal e, Daniel T. Simon c, Rainer Schindl a, Linda Waldherr a b
a Gottfried Schatz Research Center – Biophysics, Medical University of Graz, 8010 Graz, Austria
b BioTechMed-Graz, Austria, Auenbruggerplatz 30, 8036 Graz, Austria
c Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linköping University, 60174 Norrköping, Sweden
d Institute of Chemical Technologies and Analytics, Technische Universität Wien, 1060 Vienna, Austria
e Research Unit of Experimental Neurotraumatology, Medical University of Graz, 8010 Graz, Austria
f Division of Neurology, Medical University of Graz, Austria
Proceedings of Bioelectronic Interfaces: Materials, Devices and Applications (CyBioEl)
Limassol, Cyprus, 2024 October 22nd - 25th
Organizers: Eleni Stavrinidou and Achilleas Savva
Oral, Verena Handl, presentation 039
Publication date: 28th June 2024

Treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is highly challenging, with current treatments—surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy—yielding a median survival of just ~15 months. The blood-brain barrier (BBB), a semipermeable membrane, complicates drug delivery by blocking potent chemotherapeutic agents from reaching the tumor. This barrier, along with other factors, necessitates innovative approaches to brain cancer treatment. Iontronic pumps (IPs) have emerged as a promising solution. These devices use an ion exchange membrane to precisely control drug release, potentially overcoming the BBB's limitations.

After encouraging results from previous in vitro and in vivo studies, we have now established the operation of IPs in a rat brain tumor model. Utilizing a semi-wireless, Bluetooth-controlled setup, we aim to conduct long-term studies on awake rats. We induce brain tumor growth via a catheter system, through which our device is then inserted for operation. To assess the efficacy within the tissue, we have established protocols to evaluate tumor size, molecular expression of different markers, and pharmacokinetic drug distribution. These experiments aim to evaluate the efficacy of continuous drug dosing in targeting difficult-to-treat tumors over extended periods, taking the chemotherapeutic potential of IPs to the next level.

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