VCU Capstone Design 2017: Electrospray Device for Inhaled Nanoparticles

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , /

We are presented with the problem of pulmonary diseases which are also diseases that affect the lungs, so particularly emphysema and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis those two diseases affect the lower part of the lung. How the anatomy of the lung works is that there are many different branches and then each branch that the lung has becomes smaller so then there’s 23 branches and by the end of those branches there are little sacs that are called alveoli. So these alveoli sacs are very, very small and a lot of the drug delivery devices right now, they produce particles that are in the micron-size range and then those sizes are really difficult to reach those lower part of the lungs. It’s like trying to fit a football field through a doorway. You know, there’s no way you can do it. You need something a lot smaller like a football. So in this analogy, micro particles are a football field and trying to fit a micro particle into an alveoli is really hard to do. What we’re trying to do is use an electrospray process to create an electrospray device that would produce nano-sized particles. So that’s a thousand times smaller than the micro-sized particles. And then those will have a much higher chance of reaching the alveoli sacs. So with this device, we’re hoping to address a bigger population that are affected with pulmonary diseases. A lot of these teachers are electrospraying in their labs right now and have different models, especially Dr. Golshahi, who has a lung model in her lab. There is also Dr. Chen who actually has a lot of patents on electrospraying, and then Dr. Heise also is doing electrospraying in her lab. These professors are leaders in their field and really amazing people. There’s one component in our device that has to be 3D printed. So, we decided with our design to make a T-shaped tube chamber. Here we would attach a mouthpiece so this is where the drug will enter the patient, and then from the two sides are going to be two capillary needles, so the syringe pump with the drug will spray into the device from both of the ends and then
which will meet at the center and neutralize before entering the patient. At expo, the two big things you’re going to see are the voltage generators because to achieve the nanoparticles, we need to charge the electrospray at a very high voltage approximately ten thousand volts or ten kilovolts. They’re going to have wires that are connecting to the T-shaped device And then we have a syringe pump which is controlling the flow rate of the solution that we’re going to make nano particles out of. It takes three hours to make nano particles out of a two-milliliter solution so then the little T-shaped mouthpiece, if the patient were to hold it, they would hold it like this and then they would just inhale while the electrospray runs. After our model is complete, we want to hopefully see this in clinical spaces. We want to see doctors using it and then, hopefully, way in the future, we want it actually in the homes of patients and to be used like an inhaler for these patients.

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