Dutch electronics group Philips NV has developed an `intelligent pill' that contains a microprocessor, battery, wireless radio, pump and a drug reservoir and is capable of releasing medication in specific areas in the body.
Philips Research will announce its new intelligent pill technology, the `iPill', at this week's opening of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) annual meeting and exposition at Atlanta, US, from November 16-20.
The `iPill' is targeted at assisting drug development and enabling new therapies for debilitating and life-threatening digestive tract disorders such as Crohn's disease, colitis and colon cancer, Philips said in a release.
The `iPill' is a capsule, the same size as a camera pill, and has been designed to be swallowed and to pass through the digestive track naturally. It can be electronically programmed to control the delivery of medicine according to a pre-defined drug release profile.
The `iPill' determines its location in the intestinal tract by measuring the local acidity of its environment.
The Philips `iPill' comes seven years after the US Federal Drugs Administration (FDA) approved the first camera pill for diagnostic applications in 2001.
While capsules containing miniature cameras are already used as diagnostic tools, those lack the ability to deliver drugs, Philips said.
The "iPill" can also measure the local temperature and report it wirelessly to an external receiver.
''Armed with this pH information and data about capsule transit times, the location in the gut can be determined with good accuracy. The `iPill' releases medicine from its drug reservoir via a microprocessor controlled pump, allowing accurate programmable drug delivery. In addition, the capsule is designed to measure local temperature, and report measurements wirelessly to an external receiver unit,'' the release said.
Digestive tract disorders such as Crohn's disease, colitis and colon cancer are becoming increasingly common, particularly in the western world. Crohn's disease and colitis can be treated with drugs, notably steroids, but many of these drugs have adverse and unpleasant side effects for patients when administered systemically as whole-body doses. However, by delivering the required drugs directly to the site of disease, dose levels may be lowered and many of these side effects could be reduced.
|The intelligent pill (iPill), an 11 x 26 mm capsule, incorporates a microprocessor, battery, pH sensor, temperature sensor, RF wireless transceiver, fluid pump and drug reservoir.|
Philips, one of the world's biggest hospital equipment makers, said the `iPill' is a prototype but suitable for serial manufacturing.