The Networked Pill From Proteus Biomedical

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Michael Chorost published an article in MIT Technology Review about a networked pill from a company called Proteus Biomedical. The pill, called Raisin, releases a sand grain sized microchip into the body in addition to releasing the prescription.

This microchip is activated on contact with water in the body and sends electrical currents through the body as its form of communication. That’s right…no wireless signal, just electrical currents that are picked up by a receiver that is patched onto the body or as a subcutaneous insert.

There are two major advantages that this networked pill will offer. First, it will allow doctors to monitor whether patients are actually taking the medication in the quantity and frequency that they are supposed to by checking the logs from the receiver. Second, doctors can monitor physiological parameters such as heart rate before, during, and after taking the medication to better understand the impact of the medication on the patient. Some quotes from the article:

“…the dosages of drugs used for heart failure are derived from large
clinical trials and may not meet a particular patient’s needs. “Imagine
a situation where drug ingestion is tracked, and heart pressure before,
immediately after, and later are known,” says Saxon. “That represents
real, individualized, tailored drug therapy.”

“So far, Proteus has raised $60 million from investors including the
Carlyle Group and Kaiser Permanente Ventures, and it has filed more
than 250 patents. Clinical trials with human users began earlier this
year, to test the functionality of the IEM and sensors. The company
hopes to have the system on the market in 2011.”

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