A new study published in Advanced Materials reports on the development of a “smart” patch that can monitor a patient’s blood and release blood thinners as needed to prevent the occurrence of thrombosis. 

In animal models, the patch demonstrated greater efficacy in preventing thrombosis than the traditional methods of drug delivery, reported researchers from the North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the first study, mice were either left untreated, given heparin, or the HA-Heparin smart patch. Ten minutes later, they were injected with large doses of thrombin. Fifteen minutes after the injection, only the untreated mice died. 

In the second study, the thrombin doses were administered 6 hours post-treatment. Fifteen minutes after the injection, 80% of heparin-treated mice had died whereas 100% of the mice given HA-Heparin smart patch were alive. 

The novel smart patch consists of microneedles made of a polymer that consists of hyaluronic acid and heparin; the polymer has been altered to be thrombin-responsive. The closed-loop disposable patch is transcutaneously inserted into skin without leakage of the drug.

As the increased thrombin enzymes come in contact with the microneedle, the enzymes break the specific amino acid chains that bind heparin to the hyaluronic acid, thereby releasing heparin into the blood stream. 

Jicheng Yu, PhD candidate, and co-lead author of the study, explained that the amount of heparin in the patch can be decided according to the patient’s specific needs and replaced each day as needed. The amount of heparin being released, however, is determined by the thrombin levels present in the patient’s blood.

Study authors are planning to perform additional pre-clinical testing. 

For more information visit onlinelibrary.wiley.com.