"The pill" is a popular form of birth control, but it needs to be taken every day, and even one forgetful moment can increase the chances of becoming pregnant. If you are taking any type of oral medication, for high cholesterol or HIV or to maintain your reproductive independence, this sea of angry acid is the reason why you should take a pill every day. Already, Langer and his team have tested the device to deliver drugs to treat HIV and malaria in animals, albeit for shorter periods of time - about one to two weeks. While it looks decidedly unpleasant to swallow, the star's arms are created to fold up to fit inside a regular gelatine capsule, only unfolding once it reaches the stomach.
"We found a dramatic difference in the size of the brain structures between women who were taking oral contraceptives and those who were not", said Lipton. The team, based at MIT, has tested its biomedical design on pigs and found it to be effective, but it has not yet been tested on humans.More news: Plex's Ad-Supported Free Video on Demand Feature Now Available Worldwide
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has recently given the scientists almost £10m (€11.8m) to develop the pill so that it can be tested on humans, and doctors say that trials could start within three years. Once swallowed, the capsule dissolves, allowing the arms to re-form a rigid starfish.
The study, which found that women taking a birth control pill had a significantly lower hypothalamic volume, was presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. The experimental capsules released the contraceptive fairly consistently for up to four weeks, and the amount in the pigs' bloodstream was similar to what daily tablets deliver, MIT lead authors Ameya Kirtane and Tiffany Hua reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Previous research has suggested that people are better at remembering to take medicine when they have to take it only weekly or monthly, instead of daily.More news: Maricopa tapped for program aimed at HIV prevention for uninsured
"But our preclinical data is encouraging us along that road", said co-corresponding author Giovanni Traverso, MD, PhD, a gastroenterologist and physician-researcher at the Brigham and MIT. They made it stronger and turned to long-lasting contraceptive implants for the materials to hold the hormone ingredient and let it gradually seep out.
For use in humans, the capsule would be created to break down after three or four weeks and exit the body through the digestive tract. The researchers are working on several possible ways to trigger the arms to break off.More news: SpaceX delays mega rocket launch due to high wind shear
The Gates Foundation has awarded a $13 million grant to Lyndra Therapeutics, a company founded by Langer, Traverso and others, to scale up manufacturing and conduct safety studies in advance of human testing. "We're very committed to getting these technologies to people over the coming years", says Traverso, who said he anticipates human tests may be possible within three to five years. Other long-term methods, including intrauterine and intravaginal devices, some of which also release hormones that prevent pregnancy, require insertions and removals to be performed by doctors. Eventually, the team believes, monthly pills built using this technology could provide treatment for diabetes, high blood pressure drugs, Alzheimer's and more, freeing people from having to do not forget to take daily medication.