A start-up company led by an MIT alumnus is testing a new form of contraceptive implant for women with two complementary technologies: slow-release drug delivery and a remote-control function women can use to turn drug delivery on and off.
According to MIT Technology Review Magazine, the device “measures 20 x 20 x 7 millimeters, and is designed to be implanted under the skin of the buttocks, upper arm, or abdomen. It dispenses 30 micrograms a day of levonorgestrel, a hormone already used in several kinds of contraceptives. Sixteen years’ worth of the hormone fits in tiny reservoirs on a microchip 1.5 centimeters wide inside the device.”
Women can turn the contraceptive on and off with the click of a remote control, without the need to visit a doctor or clinic. The device, which will enter pre-clinical trials next year, combines wireless communications with long-term implantable drug delivery technology. It is being developed by Massachusetts-based startup MicroCHIPS, led by president and chief operating officer Robert Farra SM ’87.
The idea for the device originated two years ago when Bill Gates visited the lab of MIT Institute Professor Robert Langer ScD ’74. The Gates Foundation is part of an international consortium dedicated to providing high-quality birth control to 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.
“Gates and his colleagues asked Langer if it were feasible to create birth control that a woman could turn on and off and use for many years,” the article states. “Langer thought the controlled release microchip technology he invented with colleagues Michael Cima and John Santini in the 1990s and licensed to MicroCHIPS might offer a solution.”
Learn more at MIT Technology Review.