Can implants that deliver drugs by app replace daily pills? Health revolution on the horizon as electronic implants can deliver medication at the touch of a button, scientists say
- Remote-controlled drugs could be the way forward for drug delivery
- Scientists say this is possible with a new material with a polymeric surface
- An implant would make it possible to deliver drugs to a certain part of the body
In the future, electronic implants could replace daily pills and deliver medicines at the touch of a button.
Scientists have taken a step towards “remotely controlled” drugs by inventing a material that uses electrical signals to release molecules.
It could be used to create futuristic implants that produce doses of a drug at regular intervals so that patients no longer have to think about taking their pills.
In the future, electronic implants could replace daily pills and deliver drugs at the touch of a button, scientists say. This is because evidence shows that nearly half of people are not taking their medication correctly (STOCK)
There is some evidence that about 50 percent of people don’t take the drugs they’re prescribed correctly — putting their health at risk because they don’t want to or can’t follow the dosing schedule.
An implant would be more targeted than a pill, as it delivers a drug to a particular area of the body. With tablets, other parts of the body can be affected by the drug, which can lead to unpleasant side effects.
Researchers say a prototype could be available within a year. It can be smaller than a centimeter and controlled with a smartphone app.
The new material is a polymer surface that, triggered by a simple electrical pulse, switches from holding to releasing molecules.
Gustav Ferrand-Drake del Castillo, lead author of a study on the material, from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, said: ‘You can imagine a doctor, or a computer program, measuring a patient’s need for a new dose of medicine. . and a remotely controlled signal that activates the release of the drug from the implant located in the tissue or organ where it is needed.’
The implant requires only a small amount of current because the polymer on the surface of the electrode is very thin and thus can respond to a small electrochemical pulse.
An implant would be more targeted than a pill, as it delivers a drug to a particular area of the body. Researchers say a prototype could be available within a year, smaller than a centimeter and controlled with a smartphone app (STOCK)
Researchers also say it can withstand changes in acidity, such as those found in the digestive system, if used there.
Many researchers are working on similar implantable drug delivery devices, which it is hoped will work particularly well to target pain in specific areas, and help people with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Mr Ferrand-Drake del Castillo said: ‘Being able to control the release and absorption of proteins in the body, with minimal surgical intervention and injections, is a unique and useful property.’
The study, published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, comes as a team from Stanford University works on fingertip-sized robots that can crawl, twist and swim to enter narrow spaces in the body to dispense drugs.
Scientists have also looked at slow-release drugs through microchips, which can be controlled remotely by a doctor, and are used for osteoporosis.
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