A few years from now, when your doctor prescribes a prescription for you, you might not get a bottle of pills. Instead, your drugs might be delivered under your skin, from a small microchip. At least, that’s the promise of a new invention by MIT researchers Robert Langer and Michael Cima, who worked with MicroCHIPS, Inc. to develop a microchip capable of delivering prescription drugs to patients. The chip, which has been in development for over a decade, just completed its first human test, which it passed with flying colors.
Here’s how the chip works. It’s implanted underneath the skin of the patients (who, in the study, reported that they often forgot it was there.) The chip contains tiny reservoirs that the drugs are placed into. The reservoirs are sealed with a layer of platinum and titanium. When a current is applied to the seal, it melts, releasing the drugs into the patient’s bloodstream. The microchips are programmable, as well, so that the drug delivery can be automated.