Lexington-based startup MicroCHIPS is aiming to release remote-controlled contraceptive into preclinical testing in 2015. The proposed device delivers a daily dose of 30 micrograms of levonorgestrel — the active ingredient in some forms of oral contraception — through an implant in the buttocks, upper arm, or abdomen, and can be flipped on or off with the press of a button. Each MicroCHIPS implant will be good for 16 years and has an eventual market rollout plotted for 2018.
According to MIT Technology Review:
Passing an electric current through the seal from an internal battery melts it temporarily, allowing a small dose of the hormone to diffuse out each day.... To conceive, women turn off the implant with a remote control; another click of the remote restarts it. After 16 years, it could be removed. Doctors could also adjust dosages remotely. Currently, no hormonal birth control lasts over five years.
MicroCHIPS technology was previously tested in 2012 with a trial pool of post-menopausal women, between the ages of 65-70, with osteoporosis, who received a daily dose of teriparatide through an implant. The testers who were given the implants were reported to have similar physical benefits to testers who had previously received injections of teriparatide in previous studies. The study’s co-author and MicroCHIPS cofounder Robert Langer said in the release, “This trial demonstrates how drug can be delivered through an implantable device that can be monitored and controlled remotely, providing new opportunities to improve treatment for patients and to realize the potential of telemedicine.”
The idea of using the MicroCHIPS technology for birth control came from Bill Gates, noted Technology Review. The Microsoft founder asked Langer’s MIT Lab two years earlier “if it were feasible to create birth control that a woman could turn on and off and use for many years.”
Currently, MicroCHIPS is tying up some loose ends before Gates’ idea heads to market. FDA approval is a big one — but the development of necessary encryption is another, because birth control hacking is one nightmare no one wants to live through.
h/t Refinery 29Rachel Raczka can be reached at email@example.com. Tweet her @rachelraczka.