A team of Swedish researchers are working on developing electronic implants that can one day replace daily pills and deliver drugs at the touch of a button. The team from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden invented a material which uses electrical signals to release molecules. The new material, called a polymer surface, produces doses of a drug at regular intervals so patients no longer need to remember to take their pills, revealed the study published in the scientific journal Angewandte Chemie.
It could be used to make futuristic implants which produce the medicine doses at regular intervals.
“Our polymer surfaces offer a new way of separating proteins by using electrical signals to control how they are bound to and released from a surface, while not affecting the structure of the protein," said lead author Gustav Ferrand-Drake del Castillo.
As per some experts, around 50 per cent of people fail to take the medications they are prescribed correctly - risking their health because they are unwilling or unable to follow the dosage schedule, Daily Mail reported.
Researchers say a prototype of the implant, which would be more targeted than a pill and reducing chances of side effects, could be available within a year. It could be smaller than a centimetre across and operated using a smartphone app.
“You can imagine a doctor, or a computer programme, measuring the need for a new dose of medicine in a patient, and a remote-controlled signal activating the release of the drug from the implant located in the very tissue or organ where it’s needed," del Castillo said.
The implant only requires a small amount of power, as the polymer on the surface of the electrode is very thin, so it can react to a tiny electrochemical pulse.
The researchers also noted that the material can cope with changes in acidity, such as those found in the digestive system, if it were used there.
“Being able to control the release and uptake of proteins in the body, with minimal surgical interventions and injections is a unique and useful property," del Castillo said.