Wireless Implants Successfully Delivered Medicine for 20 Days
Seven women in Denmark between the ages of 65 and 70 received an experimental implant to replace the need for daily injections of their osteoporosis medication. The implants are roughly the size of a pacemaker or USB drive and took less than 30 minutes to be inserted with the patients under local anesthetic. While medical implants, such as pacemakers and pain pumps, have existed for some time, this new implant is the first which can be triggered and controlled wirelessly.
The devices features numerous wells which old medicine behind a metallic nano-thin film. When a signal is received, the film dissolves, releasing the medicine, but when in place the film protects and keeps the medicine from leaking into the bloodstream prematurely. The tested implants had 20 doses in them, though the manufacturer hopes future models will have as many as 400 wells, allowing for more than a year of use. Normally the medication involved for this experiment has to be injected every day, but many osteoporosis patients stop injecting themselves because it can be difficult with arthritis, and the disease is silent, so the benefits are not apparent to the patient. With an automated system though, the patients can receive their treatment without it affecting their day-to-day lives.
This experiment has proven this this technology, originally developed by MIT, has potential and future work may allow for more than just regular drug delivery. By having multiple drugs contained within the device, a pharmacy could exist beneath someone’s skin, for a doctor to use as needed. More has to be done though, because the system has to be something a patient would choose over daily injections. This means it has to be comfortable and last for a long time before being replaced. Still, the developers believe a product could be on the market in five years.