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Drug-Delivering Integrated Therapeutic Systems

Drugs are now administered at frequencies and doses based on averages optimized for large populations. Because the optimal frequency and dose for an individual differs, transiently or permanently, from that of a population’s average the dosing is now sub-optimal. Feedback loop-based individualized integrated medical systems, comprising an implanted sensor, battery, amplifier, processor and actuator are now in use in cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators. Drug-delivering medical feedback loops, comprising miniature sensors and drug pumps, would individualize, and thereby improve the effectiveness and safety of drugs. Their sensor would continuously or frequently monitor the effect of the drug and adjust, through a medical control algorithm, its flow to the minimum necessary for effectiveness, reducing thereby side effects and improving the success rate of experimental drugs. The pace of integration of the drug delivering feedback loops depends on the availability of proven miniature components and of medical control algorithms. The first of the integrated drug-delivering feedback loops, to be considered in detail, will be a diabetes management system. Its insulin pump is now available. Its integrated calibrator, built on FreeStyle ™, the painless, accurate and only 300 nL sample requiring blood glucose monitor of TheraSense (now Abbott Diabetes Care) is in use. Its implanted, miniature and reliable continuous glucose monitor, based on the electrical connection (“wiring”) of glucose oxidase through an electron conducting hydrogel to a circuit, is likely to be available soon. When the administered solution of the drug is not excessively diluted, the largest component of the drug delivering feedback loops is usually their battery. Ongoing research on a safe and miniaturizable air-breathing battery and on a miniature glucose-O2 biofuel cell may lead to smaller and better-integrated loops.
* Literature: "Integrated Medical Feedback Systems for Drug Delivery", AIChE Journal Vol. 51, p. 1054, April 2005; can be downloaded from
Type of Seminar:
Public Seminar
D-ITET Distinguished Lecturer: Prof. Adam Heller
Dept of Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas, Austin TX 78712
Nov 21, 2005   17:15

ETH Zentrum, Gloriastrasse 35, Building ETF, Room E1
Contact Person:

Prof. M.Morari
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Biographical Sketch:
Adam Heller received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, where he worked with E. D. Bergmann. In 1975 he joined ATT Bell Laboratories, where from 1977 until 1988 he headed the Electronic Materials Research Department, managing research underlying the presently practiced high-density interconnection of silicon-IC chips. He joined the engineering faculty of the University of Texas at Austin in 1988. Heller built the first inorganic liquid lasers. With J. J. Auborn he designed the lithium thionyl chloride battery used worldwide in medical and communication systems. The battery has been manufactured by Tadiran Batteries in Israel since 1975. He established the field of electrical connections (“wiring”) of redox centers of enzymes to electrodes through electron-conducting, water swollen gels. On this ”wiring” of enzymes he based Therasense, Inc, a company he co-founded in 1996 with his son Ephraim. FreeStyle™, the world-wide available blood glucose monitor from TheraSense, is the only mass manufactured (109 units/year) 300 nL fluidic device, requiring a blood sample so small, that it is painlessly obtained. The company’s second product, its enzyme wiring-based subcutaneously implanted continuous glucose monitor (FDA approval pending) transmits the glucose concentration to a wireless pager-sized receiver and alerts the diabetic patients to actual or impending deviations from normalcy. With the May 2004 acquisition of TheraSense by Abbott Laboratories for $ 1.2 billion, Heller ended his affiliation with the company. Heller’s contributions to science are described in his 230 papers cited 10,000 times and his contributions to technology in 85 issued US Patents of which 28 are in use. He is a Member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of The Electrochemical Society. He is a Guest Professor of the Collège de France and recipient of an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University in Sweden. His medals include the Spiers Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK, the Faraday Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK, the Medal of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Tokyo and the Vittorio De Nora Medal of The Electochemical Society. He also received the Grahame Award of The Electrochemical Society, the Battery Research Award of The Electrochemical Society, the Chemistry of Materials Award of the American Chemical Society and the Reilly Award of the Electroanalytical Society. In 2004 he delivered the Institute Lecture at the Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and in March 2005 he was awarded the Fresenius Gold Medal of the Society of German Chemists.