The paper “Optogenerapy: When bio-electronic implant enters the modern syringe era”, breaking down the latest advances of the multidisciplinary technologies behind Optogenerapy’s project, has been published at Porto Biomedical Journal by Fanny Michel and Marc Folcher, two scientifics and lecturers from the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering of ETH Zurich. ETH Zurich is one of the top leading international universities for technology and natural sciences, and one of the 11 partners conforming the Optogenerapy project.
In the paper, Michel and Folcher review the genesis of Optogenerapy as a new drug delivery system, taking a journey along the history of encapsulated cell technology, electronic medical devices and synthetic biology, technologies behind Optogenerapy’s concept. Highlighting the latest developments in those fields, the scientifics present the Optogenerapy project as the research necessary for a future of personalized and autonomous drug delivery systems.
Cell therapy, guided by the progress in encapsulated cells for diabetes therapy, opens the path for a cell-based implant. On the other hand, electronic medical devices led by the development of pacemakers abled the release of therapeutics wirelessly. Finally, synthetic biology and optogenetics permit the control of cells protein production capacity simply by light.
Optogenerapy concept consists of a wireless powered bio-electronic implant combining engineered cells confined in a system of semipermeable membranes and an electronic interface controlling the cells. The elements conforming the implant create an embarked optoelectronic circuit that triggers the manufacturing and release of therapeutic proteins by the engineered cells, able to treat patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. The drug is released autonomously in response to the needs of the patient; thus creating a new system for the delivery of drugs that can replace current treatments based on injections.
With the primary goal to transfer the knowledge on optogenetic cell-based implants to the private sector and society at large, ETH Zurich leads the wireless-powered optogenetic implant architecture development and the stable cell line engineering.