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Science & Technology

Chips, anyone?

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Jun 30, 1998 | From the print edition

A radical new approach to the timed release of drugs is being patented by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( mit ), usa . It uses a tiny silicon microchip etched with thousands of microscopic pits, each filled with a dose of the drug to be administered. Each tiny pit is covered with a thin conductive film that acts as an electrode. Transistors present on these chips selectively open and close these reservoirs of medicine by feeding a small amount of current from a minuscule battery to the electrodes. These then break down, thereby releasing the drug. The release can be controlled by either a timer on the chip or by radio signals transmitted from a computer. The chip, which is implanted under the skin, can continue operation for years. mit says the system is ideal for animals and for patients who forget to take their medicines frequently

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