(LATIMES) — It can be swallowed, injected, inhaled or delivered to the bloodstream through a time-release implant. Now scientists say they have devised a new way to give patients their medicine: through a fingertip-size microchip embedded in the body that doctors can control remotely via a wireless connection.
The drug chip, more than a dozen years in the making, was used to deliver bone-strengthening hormones to women with advanced osteoporosis who otherwise would have needed daily injections. After four months, the chips were safely removed from the patients' bodies, scientists reported Thursday at a meeting in Vancouver of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science.
"This is the kind of thing you see in 'Star Trek,' " said Robert Langer, a professor of chemical engineering at MIT and senior author of the study, which was also published online Thursday by the journal Science Translational Medicine.
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Like pacemakers, defibrillators and other implantable electronic devices, the chips are controlled by radio waves in a dedicated medical frequency band. But instead of delivering an electric signal to the body, they deliver a chemical signal.