Osteoporosis drugs delivered wirelessly

A microchip (right) about the size of a memory stick (left), can release drugs in implanted patients through wireless control, a new study finds.

An implanted microchip that releases medication on command from wireless signals has been demonstrated in people for the first time using a drug for osteoporosis.

This tiny device, implanted under the skin, could be useful in treating many diseases that require taking medication regularly, scientists reported February 16 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“This opens up profound possibilities for improving the treatment of patients and the potential of telemedicine,” said Robert Farra, president of MicroCHIPS Inc., the company that funded and conducted part of the study. A paper describing the results was also published online February 16 in Science Translational Medicine by collaborators from MicroCHIPS, MIT, Harvard and Case Western University.

The idea behind a microchip that could release chemicals in the body at precise times was first developed by MIT scientists over a decade ago. But researchers needed to make sure that medications were well stored in the device. Also, the immune system tends to create a barrier of collagen around implanted devices, which could make it difficult for the drug to make it into the bloodstream.

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