Staph infections are often localized in the body, yet can be very difficult to treat both invasively and using antibiotics. Now researchers from Tufts University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed an implantable electronic device that is able to kill a staph infection and then dissolve into the body once its job is done.
The chip is made out of a silk protein substrate with a magnesium heating element in between. The element is energized externally using a wireless transmitter, heating up and raising the temperature of the tissue around enough to kill bacteria. The treatment time can be controlled by deciding for how long to deliver the RF energy and the silk substrate can be manufactured to dissolve at different rates to allow the implant to be tailored for different applications. In a study on mice, the device worked extremely well in treating staph infections and dissolved completely within about two weeks.
The device can be also tailored to carry a drug payload the release of which can also be externally triggered.