A Massachusetts-based startup called MicroCHIPS has developed an implantable contraceptive chip that can be wirelessly controlled.
Because the device can be turned on and off with a remote, women will no longer need to go to a clinic for an outpatient procedure when they need to deactivate their birth control. MIT Technology Review reports.
The chip is a 20-millimeter square, about 7 millimeters thick, and each day, it dispenses 30 micrograms of a hormone called levonorgestrel, which is already being used as a contraceptive in the U.S.
The technology, which was designed to deliver a variety of drugs, stores the compounds in an array of tiny reservoirs on the chip. These microreservoirs are sealed with a platinum and titanium membrane before the chip is implanted under the skin of the buttocks, upper arm, or abdomen. When an electrical current from an internal battery is applied, the membrane seal melts temporarily -- in a controlled degradation -- and releases the dose of the hormones or drugs.
“The idea of using a thin membrane like an electric fuse was the most challenging and the most creative problem we had to solve,” MicroCHIPS president Robert Farra tells Tech Review.
The device is designed to last 16 years. If the patient wants to be taken off birth control, she can just turn the device off with a simple click on the remote control. Turning it back on is just as simple.
The team will file an application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after working out some more details, such as encrypting the chips to keep the wireless information flow secure. MicroCHIPS will begin pre-clinical tests next year, with the goal of having the device on the market by 2018.