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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Birth control of the future could be activated with a wireless remote


The device, developed by MicroCHIP, can last up to 16 years

The company MicroCHIP, based in Massachusetts, is developing a rather futuristic form of contraception: a microchip that lasts for 16 years and can be easily turned off, no doctor’s appointment necessary.

The concept was conceived two years ago when Bill Gates visited Robert Langer’s MIT lab. Gates, according to MIT Technology Review, mused over whether it was possible to create a birth control that could easily be turned on or off as desired. Langer thought a product he invented with Michael Cima and John Santini in the 1990s might work, which was licensed to MicroCHIP.

The chip would be wireless, and could be controlled by the patient via remote control. Doctors, too, could control dosage remotely. MIT Technology Review explains the technology:

“The device measures 20 x 20 x 7 millimeters, and it is designed to be implanted under the skin of the buttocks, upper arm, or abdomen. It dispenses 30 micrograms a day of levonorgestrel, a hormone already used in several kinds of contraceptives. Sixteen years’ worth of the hormone fits in tiny reservoirs on a microchip 1.5 centimeters wide inside the device. MicroCHIPS invented a hermetic titanium and platinum seal on the reservoirs containing the levonorgestrel. 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.”
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