The Programmable Pill

April 18, 2001 | Source: Technology Review

“Smart” methods of delivering drugs to the body—-based on micro- and nanotechnology—-could reduce side effects, make better use of existing drugs and open the door to entire classes of new treatments.

For example, Tejal Desai, assistant professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago and iMedd of Ohio are building 150-microns-wide silicon particles. On one side, up to 20 drug-containing reservoirs are etched, each sealed with a polymer plug. The particles are swallowed, releasing drugs only at a predetermined time and location.

And University of Michigan electrical engineer Kensall Wise, who is developing a tiny implantable neural probe (designed to measure electrical activity in the brains of patients with diseases like epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease), realized such a device could do double duty, delivering drugs to combat the very diseases it was monitoring.