Credit: Chris Marshall/Mint Motion
Following the BBC’s ‘The Parkinson’s Drug Trial: A Miracle Cure?’ documentary, Assistant Editor, Sam Davies speaks to Renishaw about the engineering behind the drug delivery technology featured in the programme.
As camera crews are introduced to the participants, there is one who might writhe uncontrollably on the floor for hours on end, others have gone years without being able to put socks on their own feet independently, and then there are those burdened by the fact this is all yet to come.
Up to ten million people worldwide live with Parkinson’s. The condition kills dopamine cells which play an important role in the putamen, a part of the brain’s corpus striatum where signals are distributed to facilitate physical movement. No cure has yet been discovered. Those diagnosed will die with the condition, deteriorating day by day.
In 2012 began a clinical trial, carried out in Bristol, UK, of GDNF (glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor) for the treating and curing of Parkinson’s. There were 41 participants, each desperate, then hopeful, then invigorated, but ultimately disheartened.
Having sat through a series of consultations, each arrived one by one, climbing onto the surgeon’s chair, ready to undergo a complex brain surgery which would see the neuroinfuse drug delivery device, manufactured by Renishaw for North Bristol NHS Trust, implanted into the central organ of the human nervous system.
This delivery device consists of an additively manufactured titanium port with four individual channels connected to four individual catheters which are placed into the brain’s putamen. The port is anchored into the skull, with bone then growing around it. Only the top of the port, to which an accessory is attached for infusing the drug, sticks out of the skin. The port has been 3D printed and machined to achieve the surfaces required, a nice polished finish on the visible end, and a roughened finish under the skin to help enable skin and bone integration. Titanium was the selected material because of its biocompatibility and MRI compatibility.