Remote-Controlled Contraceptive Lasts 16 Years

A remote control under development does more than channel surf: it can turn your contraception on and off.

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An implantable contraceptive designed by a start-up, MicroCHIPS, would last for 16 years if pre-clinical testing is successful. The 20 x 20 x 7 millimeter device could be implanted in the buttocks, upper arm or abdomen. There, it dispenses a tiny amount of the hormone levonorgestrel each day. Dosage could also be adjusted via remote.

A seal made of hermetic titanium and platinum holds the hormone until an electric current from the battery melts it momentarily to allow the correct amount out.

“The idea of using a thin membrane like an electric fuse was the most challenging and the most creative problem we had to solve,” MicroCHIPS president Robert Farra told MIT Techonology Review.

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The idea was born after Bill Gates visited a lab at MIT, hoping to find someone to design a contraceptive that could last longer than the current maximum of five years, and be turned off and on. The lab director, Robert Langer, had helped develop controlled release microchip technology licensed to MicroCHIPS, and had an inkling it could be used for contraception.

The company is hoping to market it by 2018.

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