Two years ago, Bill Gates visited a lab at MIT and planted the seed for an idea of developing a birth control that could be turned on and off at the user’s discretion and would last years.
Late last week, MIT announced that a startup has created such a “remote-controlled” form of birth control.
The 1.5-centimeter-wide implantable birth control chip developed by MicroCHIPs, according to MIT’s Technology Review, can be last up to 16 years and is set to begin pre-clinical testing next year, with the goal that it be marketable by 2018.
The birth control hormone is dispensed when an electrical current, spurred on by the remote, melts a small part of the device.
The technology to deliver a drug in this way was invented by MIT’s Rober Langer, Michael Cima and John Santini in the 1990s and later licensed to MicroCHIPS.
In addition to loads of testing, Technology Review reported that the makers would also have to prove the chip can be encrypted well enough so that it could not be tampered with without the patient’s knowledge.
“Communication with the implant has to occur at skin contact level distance,” Robert Farra, MicroCHIPS president and chief operating officer, told BBC. ”Someone across the room cannot reprogram your implant. Then we have secure encryption. That prevents someone from trying to interpret or intervene between the communications.”
MicroCHIPs, in general, has already completed its first in-human trial that showed how this type of drug-delivery method could be used in patients with osteoporosis.
“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,” Farra said in a statement at the time. “We look forward to making further progress to advance our first device toward regulatory approvals, as well as developing a range of products for use in important disease areas such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer and chronic pain.”
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