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article imageMicrochips designed to slow-release drugs over years

By Tim Sandle     Jul 4, 2015 in Science
Medical technologists have developed an implantable device that can be placed at a specific body site to allow for the slow release of targeted medications.
The device takes the form of a microchip, with a number of advantages. First, it replaces the need for injections or pills. Secondly, it ensures that the medication is targeted at a specific body site, avoiding the drug missing its target. Thirdly, the drug avoids the need for more invasive repeat treatments. Each chip would be placed in a person’s body through a surgical procedure.
The chip can deliver a controlled dose of medication by being controlled by a wireless signal. Depending on the medical condition to be treated, the chip can deliver a medication over a period of several years. The chips are equipped with hundreds of tiny reservoirs, each containing a tiny quantity of a medication (sufficient for one dose.)
The device delivers that medication via an electric current, and it falls within the sphere of microelectromechanical systems. The person has to be relatively close to the transmitter for the signal to trigger the release of the drug. Discussing this aspect, Robert Farra, who was involved with the project, told the Controlled Release Society: “The external controller can be a cellular phone, a tablet, or a custom transceiver connected to a personal computer (similar to the device we used in the clinical trial). The distance between the body and the external controller must be within 3 meters to establish communication.”
Furthermore, there are some limitations as to how deep within the body the chip can be planted. Examples of the application are with the treatment of diabetes, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer.
The device was created by Microchips Biotech. The company is now working with a major pharmaceutical organisation — Teva Pharmaceutical. This will enable clinical trials to take place. According to In-PharmaTechnologist, Teva paid out $35 million for the technology.
In terms of future developments, Microchips Biotech are working on a birth-control microchip. This project is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This new chip releases contraceptives and it can also be turned on and off wirelessly.
More about Microchips, Implants, Medical devices, Drug delivery, Medication
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