Remote-controlled microchip implant delivers drug: Study

microchip implant

(CBS) An under-the-skin microchip device that releases drugs has been tested in humans for the first time.

The study - published in the Feb. 16 issue of Science Translational Medicine - involved eight postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. The microchip-based device containing osteoporosis treatment was implanted in these women for four months and wirelessly programmed to release doses of the medicine once a day for 20 days.

Did it work?

Tests showed the daily releases from the device increased bone formation without any toxic or negative consequences. The women said the implant did not have an impact on their quality of life.

"These data validate the microchip approach to multi-year drug delivery without the need for frequent injections, which can improve the management of many chronic diseases like osteoporosis where adherence to therapy is a significant problem," study author Robert Farra, president of the MicroChips - the company that developed the device - said in a written statement. Farra said the company looks to develop a range of products to treat diseases including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and chronic pain.

The implantable microchip could someday serve as a substitute for daily injections. With this method of treatment, "patients are freed from the daily reminder, or burden, of disease by eliminating the need for regular injections," Robert Langer, MicroChips cofounder and professor at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, said.

"Patient compliance is a big issue, especially when we are asking patients to give themselves daily injections of a drug," Dr. Michael J. Cima, MIT engineering professor and one of the original developers of the idea, told WebMD. "This could take patient compliance out of the equation."

Implantable medical devices such as pacemakers and pain pumps have been used to help patients manage disease. This microchip drug delivery device advances that technology.