Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed the first, digital, droplet infusion system capable of high-precision delivery of very low-volume therapeutics or nutraceuticals.
Infusions to deliver medications intravenously are a common clinical practice. They are especially effective in treating patients who are not responsive to other drug delivery routes. Infusion applications include chemotherapy, outpatient surgery, pain management, and the delivery of medications and supplements such as antibiotics, analgesia, anesthesia, and alimentation. Microinfusion pumps provide relatively accurate delivery of some fluids at rates lower than 10mL/h – a volume commonly associated with pediatric patients, neonates, or for administrating short-acting or highly concentrated drugs. However, even automated infusion systems – which improve delivery control, precision, and safety compared to manual systems - have several inherent limitations. These limitations include volume inaccuracies at very low volumes, as well as other functional properties with various disadvantages. An emerging technology attracting increased interest is digital droplet infusion (DDI) systems. These systems have demonstrated their potential as a lower-cost, higher precision, alternative to existing infusion dispensing solutions. Researchers at the University of California Davis have
developed a microfluidics-based infusion system that delivers very low volumes with extremely high precision. It employs digital droplet flowmetry, utilizing interfacial instability to convert continuous flow into uniform, discrete, droplets. The device’s governing parameters also help increase the consistency of droplet volume. This technology can achieve micro-infusion rates ranging from 0.1mL/h to 10mL/h - with a precision resolution of 57nL for a single droplet. Its low-cost, modular design and simple architecture allow for fast assembly using only off-the-shelf and 3D- printed components - making it suitable for both disposable applications and remote settings. Thus DDI technology has the potential to become the next-generation clinical standard.