MIT spinoff Microchips finishes development of its birth control, osteoporosis implant

Drug-delivering chip from Microchips--Courtesy of Microchips

Microchips Biotech says it's ready to send its delivery technology out into the world, this week announcing it has completed development and clinical demonstration of the drug-delivering implant.

Microchips' device is a fingernail-sized implant placed under the skin that can deliver drugs for up to 16 years without replacement. Spun out from MIT at the hands of entrepreneur and professor Robert Langer, the company, based in Lexington, MA, has outfitted the platform with drugs to treat osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis and diabetes, as well as with hormones for birth control.

The osteoporosis chip underwent a 2012 first-in-human study in women with the disease, showing increased bone mass comparable to patients with daily injections. And the tech stoked curiosity a few months ago as a birth control option that could be in place for one and a half decades but provide the control that comes with simply turning the device off, giving the woman a chance to conceive.

"The versatility of our platform design lends itself to several clinical applications, and diabetes management is one specific area of tremendous opportunity, a fact which is underscored by our discussions with several potential partners focused on managing that condition," CEO Cheryl Blanchard said in a statement. "For patients with diabetes, compliance is critical and a challenge given the need for frequent, even twice-daily administration of therapeutics, often via injections. Leveraging the microchip-based implant to automate dosing to enhance compliance could be life-changing for the 29 million Americans living with the disease."

The chip itself comes equipped with reservoirs to hold drugs safely in the body until their seals melt away at predictable intervals to release the drug at the correct dose. In this way, they can be programmed to release in response to certain stimuli (such as low blood sugar), on a timed schedule or on demand from a wireless port.

Robert Langer

Langer has said: "The convergence of drug delivery and electronic technologies gives physicians a real-time connection to their patient's health, and patients are freed from the daily reminder, or burden, of disease by eliminating the need for regular injections."

- here's the release