(RxWiki News) It sounds like something out of a sci-fi flick: An implantable microchip, embedded in your skin, that releases medication with the push of a remote-controlled button.
The implantable drug chip is now a reality, and it was announced this week at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. In a trial, it was successfully used to deliver osteoporosis medication to women who otherwise would have needed daily injections.
The study authors say that the new drug delivery device frees patients from the burden of remembering their medications, and the pain of injections.
"Ask your pharmacist how best to take your medications."
The device is made by a company called MicroCHIPS, Inc, and the study was done in collaboration with MIT, Harvard Medical School, OnDemand Therapeutics Inc and Case Western Reserve University.
The microchip was designed to release medication on command, through a wirelessly controlled device that could be operated by a doctor or other healthcare professional. Using radio waves, a push of a button delivers an electrical signal to the microchip, allowing it to release a dose of medication.
The chips were tested on eight women in Denmark who had advanced osteoporosis. They had extremely fragile bones, prone to fracture, and were taking daily hormone injections to boost bone formation.
At the end of 12 months, the chips were safely removed from the study participants, where they had been implanted just under the skin beneath the waistline. The study results showed that the microchip delivered their daily drug just as effectively as their daily injections would have.
The creators of the chip believe that it could be used for many other health conditions, such as chronic pain, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis.
They believe that implanting a chip would improve the quality of life for many patients who have trouble taking daily injections, storing medications that need to be refrigerated, or fall off in compliance with their doctor's instructions.
The chip has been over a decade in the making. In 1999, the researchers wrote a paper imagining a drug delivery device that could deliver doses held in tiny wells, released by an electrical signal.
What they came up with was a one by two inch device containing two microchips. Each chip contains small chambers with carefully measured drug doses.
Each chamber is covered by an extremely thin layer of gold, which dissolves when it receives the chemical signal from the remote. That releases the dose immediately into the blood stream.
MicroCHIPS expects that their device will be made widely available in five years.