MicroCHIPS Shows Promise of Bone Drug Implant in First Human Trial

2/16/12Follow @arleneweintraub

Waltham, MA-based MicroCHIPS announced today that its lead product—an implantable, wireless, chip-based device that delivers a drug to treat the bone disease osteoporosis—performed well in its first human trial. The study, published in the online edition of the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that post-menopausal women who received daily doses of the popular drug teriparatide (Forteo) via the device absorbed the same therapeutic levels as generally observed in women getting daily injections.

The company hailed the results as validation of its original mission—to design a device that would make it easier for patients to comply with drug regimens that are vital to their long-term health, but are a major hassle because they require frequent pills or injections. “A key finding was that patients found our implant acceptable—they couldn’t feel it in their bodies,” says chief operating officer Robert Farra (pictured above). “This minimizes the burden on the patient of having to manage this disease.”

When Xconomy first profiled MicroCHIPS in 2007, the company’s founders—which included MIT professor (and Xconomist) Robert Langer—hoped to make a big impact on the medical devices industry with a technology it invented to encase drugs in tiny reservoirs laid out on a chip that can be controlled wirelessly. The company raised $33 million in three rounds of venture financing, went through a few twists and turns in its strategy, and then settled on osteoporosis as its lead pursuit.

MicroCHIPS’s device is roughly three-by-five centimeters—the size of a USB flash memory stick—and can be implanted in patients during a 30-minute outpatient procedure. The device can be programmed to release a single dose each day, at a specific time. Furthermore, says Farra, “it keeps a log of each dose, which a physician can upload anytime to make sure it’s working properly. We can also change the dosing schedule at any time.”

Robert Neer, founder and director of the Bone Density Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of MicroCHIPS’s scientific advisory board, says an alternative to pills and injections is sorely needed in the field of osteoporosis, where a huge proportion of patients fail to stick with prescribed therapies. “The problem with osteoporosis is it doesn’t cause symptoms until … Next Page »

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