A new remote-controlled contraceptive is being tested.
If successful, it could allow women to safely control their fertility. The contraceptive device was developed by a company supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The concept is that the remote-controlled device will allow women to regulate and control dosages of a contraceptive hormone called levonorgestrel, the hormone commonly used to prevent pregnancies.
How Does it Work?
The computer chip becomes active when implanted under the skin of a woman's abdomen, buttocks, or upper arm. It will then release a small dose of the levonorgestrel every day for up to 16 years, which is when the chip will have to be replaced. The doses can be stopped by a wireless remote control at any time.
"I think this kind of technology could have a major effect and revolutionize various aspects of medicine, including birth control,” said Dr. Bob Langer from M.I.T.
Langer started his work with bio-tech firm MicroCHIPS of Lexington. The technology for the chip was first tested in 2012 in osteoporosis patients, and then the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation came in with a multi-million dollar grant. They were interested in seeing if this chip could be used to prevent pregnancy.
Inside the Chip
The hormone itself is inside of a 1.5 centimeter-wide microchip within the device and the 30 microgram dose is activated when the thin seal around the levonorgestrel is melted by a small electric charge. Despite how complex yet convenient the microchip implant appears to be, it is still suggested that the device will remain "competitively priced."
With all of the excitement, the chip will begin pre-clinical testing next year in the United States. It will also be submitted for approval through the FDA some time in the near future. If the trials being held prove to be successful, the implant could become available as early as 2018.
Although there is still a lot of work to be done through testing and discovering potential risks, this kind of technology could definitely be a start to administering other drugs in this way.
"The ability to turn the device on and off provides a certain convenience factor for those who are planning their family," explained Bob Farra, President and COO of MicroCHIPS.
If and when the device is ready, its price tag could end up being around $1,000.
As contraceptives for women have been greatly debated over within politics as of late, this new device could be a real game-changer. The controversy may grow to be more complicated from this scientific advancement, but the progress and determination is impressive to say the least.