(01/31/13) - Instead of taking a pill or getting a shot, how about having your medicine delivered wirelessly? It is closer than you think - you may be able to trade in your pill bottles and syringes for microchips. This new technology could make it easier and, in some cases, less painful to take your drugs.
MIT's Dr. Michael Cima helped create the first pharmacy on a chip. It is only five centimeters by three centimeters in size.
The medicated microchip can be programmed wirelessly to release medication from tiny reservoirs. Osteoporosis patients, who have to inject themselves with bone growth drugs every day, were the first to test it.
"This was implanted just below the belt line underneath the skin," Cima says.
A month-long study showed the implant delivered the drug just as well as the patients' usual daily injection, with no adverse side effects.
Meanwhile, in another MIT lab, Carl Schoellhammer is testing high and low frequency ultrasound as a way to painlessly deliver drugs through the top layer of skin.
Sound waves suspend the bubbles in this solution, he says, "and eventually these bubbles become unstable and they implode and that causes a little jet that hits the skin."
When that happens, the skin becomes permeable, so a patch of medication or even a vaccine can be applied and absorbed into the body without needles and, he adds, "without the fear of transmitting any disease from person to person."
The ultrasound drug delivery system is still in the prototype phase. Dr. Cima says the microchip could help patients who need drugs for things like diabetes, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.
The first study of the microchip's first study tested it loaded with 20 doses of medications. The next study will up the ante to a year's worth.
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