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Wireless device delivers osteoporosis drug: study

CHICAGO -- An implantable, wireless microchip delivered osteoporosis medicine to a small group of Danish women, raising hope for a new kind of drug delivery device that might allow patients to skip regular injections, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

The device, now being developed by privately held Microchips Inc, has a wireless receiver that signals the microchip to release the drug.

“Until now, you never had any way you could do this,” said Dr. Robert Langer of the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology, who helped to develop the technology and is a board member of Microchips Inc.

Langer said the device could be used for different types of injectable drugs where getting people to take their medications regularly is a problem.

That is often the case in patients with severe osteoporosis, who tend to skip doses of their medications because they cannot tell whether or not the injections are affecting the density of their bones.

That is something the microchip was designed to overcome, said Robert Farra of Massachusetts-based Microchips, which paid for the study. Farra, Langer and colleagues published a paper on the study in Science Translational Medicine.

Instead of constantly releasing small amounts of drug, like most drug-delivery systems, the microchip releases medication on command all at once, much like an injection would.

It can be activated by telephone or computer using a special radiofrequency reserved for medical use to safeguard against accidental release of the drug, Langer said.

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