Hate needles, but need medicine? Introducing the wireless drug delivery chip.

March 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

The implantable medical device that allows repeated wireless drug delivery in lieu of injections. Photo: M. Scott Brauer

Hope you MAT 120 students had a great weekend!  I know I did!  I found this interesting article a couple of weeks ago when doing my daily Engadget browse, and decided to write about it.  A lot of good information is presented in the article, so check it out after reading this post.  It will be linked at the bottom.

hate needles.  I know that blood is drawn from them, and drugs are administered through them, but seriously they suck.  But thankfully, two MIT professors, Robert Langer and Michael Cima had an idea 15 years ago to develop a programmable wireless microchip that delivers drugs.  It would be implanted into the patient with a certain number of doses.  The doses can be released based on a programmed schedule or triggered remotely by radio communication over a special frequency called Medical Implant Communication Service (MICS).  The current versions work only within a few inches, but the researchers plan to extend the range.

The initial study was started in January 2011 in Denmark.  It was implanted into seven women aged 65-70 with twenty doses of the drug teriparatide.  They were stored individually and sealed in tiny reservoirs the size of a tiny pinprick.  The study found that the device delivered dosages comparable to injections, and there were no adverse side effects as well as the dosages had less variation than those given by injection.  The results, published Feb. 16, represent the first successful test of such a device and could help usher in a new era of telemedicine!

You could literally have a pharmacy on a chip.  […] You can do remote control delivery, you can do pulsating drug delivery, and you can deliver multiple drugs,” says Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT.

These programmable chips can do more than just deliver osteoporosis drugs, but medication needed for chronic pain management, insulin doses/readings, and can avoid the compliance issue that comes with a lot of drug regiments, including those where patients have to give themselves injections.  The researchers at MicroCHIPS, the company that funded the study, and was born after the initial findings from the MIT team in 1999, says the future looks promising.  Once a version of the implant can carry a larger number of doses, they plan to seek approval for further clinical trials.  The company has also been developing sensors to monitor glucose levels, and the idea of combining sensors with drug reservoirs on chips can adapt drug treatments to the patients specific and unique condition.

Here is the link to the Engadget article, and the MITNews source.

Don’t forget to check out the quiz on Blackboard!!  Thanks for reading, and make this last week before Spring Break count!


Rishi Sheth

P.S:  Engadget showed a video a long time ago about Boston Dynamics Alpha Dog, a robotic pack-mule the size of a bull that can carry up to 400 pounds and it is unstoppable.  Below is the video of their new project, the bipedal PETMAN.  One step closer to the Robot Apocalypse!

This postscript, like the last one, and the video do not have related questions on the quiz, and are for your amusement only.


Entry filed under: technology, Uncategorized.

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