CONNECT: A Biodegradable, 3D-Printed Implantable for Minimally-Invasive Controlled Delivery
The proposed research direction is the manufacture and characterization of implantable, biodegradable polymer structures with engineered release profiles of drug payloads. These structures can be 3D printed in-house with complex geometries and composite structures, which we hypothesize will dissolve such that selective timing or staged release of one or more compounds is possible. While typically such payloads would be therapeutic in action, this platform technology is drug agnostic and can be used for image enhancement or theranostic applications as well. Such implantables should offer significant value through sustained and localized delivery to areas such as the brain or bladder without requiring systemic circulation (as is typical with oral or injected administration), removal surgeries, or multiple office visits. In this proposal, funding for the initial fabrication and characterization of this platform is sought. Identification of the best polymers, geometries, and fabrication methods will be crucial to the successful translation of this technology. This funding will be a key accelerant for establishing an innovative technology platform that can support substantial follow-up funding from federal sources such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, or Department of Defense, as well as more local agencies like the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. As the proposed technology lies at the intersection of the currently exploding fields of 3D-printing, controlled release, and theranostics, it is poised to have a significant impact on clinical care.