A wireless, implantable microchip successfully administered timed medication doses to a small group of patients with osteoporosis, according to a study in Science Translational Medicine, Reuters reports.
The microchip -- developed by Massachusetts-based MicroChips -- is designed to release medication in large amounts on demand, much like an injection.
The chip can be activated remotely by phone or computer using a dedicated radiofrequency.
For the study, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and colleagues implanted the microchip near the waistline of seven Danish women between the ages of 65 and 70 who had been treating their osteoporosis with daily injections of teriparatide (Steenhuysen, Reuters, 2/16).
According to findings -- which were presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting this month -- the chip delivered the drug as effectively as injections and produced similar bone formation results after 12 months (Winslow, Wall Street Journal, 2/17).
Researchers said the microchip increased patient compliance with the typical 24-month osteoporosis treatment regimen from 25% to 100% (Salamon, HealthDay, 2/16).
Robert Neer -- a study coauthor and director of Massachusetts General Hospital's Bone Density Center -- said, "The major advantage of the chip is that the patient takes every dose that is prescribed." He added, "The chip is more reliable than the patient" (Brown, Los Angeles Times, 2/16).
Future Microchip Use
Robert Farra, president of MicroChips and lead author of the study, said the company expects to develop a chip with 365 reservoirs -- enough to deliver medication daily for one year -- within roughly two years and seek regulatory approval.
In addition to treating osteoporosis, the company says the chip also could be used to deliver medication to patients with multiple sclerosis or chronic pain.
However, the Wall Street Journal reports that the chip might be ideal for treating diabetes because patients typically require more insulin daily than the small devices can hold (Wall Street Journal, 2/17).