A mathematical analysis by ThinkTank Maths solved a major design problem for a new medical nanotechnology device, preventing unpredictable doses of medication to patients.

Anyone who has an aversion to medical injections will be pleased to know that new nanotechnology-based medical devices like nanoneedle patches will enable much more targeted and less invasive drug delivery.

Even here, novel mathematics has a crucial role to play. For instance, research engineers at Oxford University — working with a large Biotech company — recently prototyped a nanoneedle drug delivery device to target Langerhans cells. These are a layer of cells just below the skin, linked to transmission of HIV. The needles were designed to match the pattern of the Langerhans cells, which meant that the drug delivery rate depended on how the patch was applied to the patient’s skin.

ThinkTank Maths’ (TTM) mathematical analysis of the device design revealed a problem with the needle layout that could lead to unpredictable doses being given to patients. Without TTM’s investigation, this issue would only have shown up at a later stage, during expensive and lengthy clinical trials.

To solve the problem, TTM mathematically derived an alternative pattern that would always hit the cells, regardless of the orientation of the patch — guaranteeing a reliable drug delivery rate.

TTM continues to pursue research into novel mathematics inspired by medicine and biology. This is an important theme in our work to address the challenges of complex systems.

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