Microchips could deliver medication to chronically ill patients
Posted February 17, 2012
Boston — For many people with chronic diseases, painful daily injections are the only way to get medication.
But now, researchers in Boston have come up with a new pain-free way to deliver drugs. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found a way to use microchips to deliver important drugs to patients wirelessly.
"You can literally have a pharmacy on a chip," MIT professor Bob Langer said.
The implantable chip can release different types of drugs into the body at any time. Doctors can control how many doses of drugs are in the implant and when those drugs get released. Doctors can even adjust their patient's medication using a computer or cell phone.
One of the first sets of tests was on eight women with osteoporosis, a bone disease. Doctors released medication in more accurate doses into patients for one month without any side effects.
The devices may also be able to help treat people with other chronic diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis or heart disease.
Doctors are continuing to research ways to develop chips that can hold more doses. They hope the chips will be ready for widespread use within five years.
"We're designing a chip to put a year's worth of drug on this chip," Langer said.
Another benefit is that patients would no longer have to worry about carrying medications with them or forgetting to take daily doses.
MicroCHIPS, a company based in Massachusetts, funded the study.