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Implanted Microchip Might Be Future of Drug Delivery
Date:2/17/2012

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Remote controls may not be for just appliances anymore. In a new small study, women with severe osteoporosis were implanted with a microchip that releases bone-building drugs at the push of a button, a delivery method that could someday become common for various health conditions.

Roughly 1.5-by-2.5 inches in size, the microchip significantly improved patient compliance with a drug regimen that normally requires painful daily self-injections, study authors said. The clinical trial, conducted on seven osteoporosis patients in Denmark, was the first to test a wirelessly controlled microchip in this capacity.

"It frees patients from the burden of managing their disease on a daily basis," said Robert Farra, co-author of the study and president and chief operating officer of MicroCHIPS Inc., the Waltham, Mass., company that funded and supervised the trial. "I think there will be a class of drugs [for other conditions] that will be very suitable to use the chip for . . . we were very pleased with the results."

The study is published Feb. 16 in the journal Science Translational Medicine, coinciding with its presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

Along with researchers from MIT, Harvard Medical School and other companies and institutions, Farra implanted the microchip just under the skin near the waistline of the seven women, who ranged from ages 65 to 70 and had been using pre-filled injection pens containing teriparatide (brand name Forteo) for their severe osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease.

Although a fibrous membrane grew around the device, which was expected, the microchip delivered the drug as effectively as daily injections, the study said. Blood tests done after the 12-month study period indicated rates of bone formation similar to when the
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