Many drugs cannot pass from the bloodstream into the brain and spinal cord. When patients have cancers that involve these sites, it may be difficult to get important chemotherapies in to fight the cancer. Ellis Meng, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering, USC Viterbi School of Engineering, is a leading expert in the development of mini-pump devices to deliver medications to hard-to-reach places. Meng teamed up with Hung Chi Tran, MD, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine of USC and physician at CHLA, to develop a mini-pump that can infuse chemotherapy directly into the fluid around the brain and spinal cord for children with cancer that involves these areas. The SC CTSI helped Meng and Tran obtain nearly $3 million in private and government funding to develop their small implantable “mini-pump.” The team’s technology, which is advancing toward clinical trials, addresses an important unmet clinical need and may help many other central nervous system conditions where sustained direct drug delivery into the cerebrospinal fluid can be beneficial.

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