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Implantable device can deliver the hormone levonorgestrel for up to 16 years

The field of contraceptives may soon get a huge boost thanks to a startup company from Lexington, Massachusetts. MicroCHIPS has developed a new wireless implant that is designed to operate for up to 16 years within a woman’s body.
 
The device measures just 20mm x 20mm x 7mm and can be implanted in a variety of areas of the body including the abdomen and buttocks. Once implanted, a woman would be able to control her dosages of the hormone levonorgestrel — at a rate of 30 micrograms per day — via remote control. The device holds enough levonorgestrel — ensconced within a hermetic titanium and platinum seal — to last for 16 years.

An early version of the MicroCHIPS implantable device 
 
The hormone is dispensed daily by temporarily melting the seal, allowing only the correct daily dosage to pass through the membrane. “The idea of using a thin membrane like an electric fuse was the most challenging and the most creative problem we had to solve,” said MicroCHIPS president Robert Farra.
 
A woman would have full control over the device, allowing her to keep the daily dosage of hormones flowing to prevent pregnancy. However, once she is ready to conceive, she can simply turn off the device via the remote control.


MicroCHIPS' current implantable device
 
There are of course a number of issues that need to be worked out before the device can be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Notably, some of the most important aspects of the device that must be developed include its security and encryption protocols. We’re certain that women don’t want hackers to have control over their reproductive organs or have the ability to dispense more than the daily dosage of levonorgestrel at a time (which could lead to its own set of problems).
 
Earlier this year, MicroCHIPS received a $4.6M grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to further develop its implant. MicroCHIPS hopes to have its device on the market by 2018.

Sources: MIT Review, MicroCHIPS, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, news@JAMA





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