Brussels, 21 Sep 2005
Partners in the EU-funded IntelliDrug project have developed an innovative device for controlled drug delivery that is worn inside the mouth.
The IntelliDrug project addresses the need for new, less invasive and better-controlled drug delivery systems, particularly for people suffering from chronic diseases and drug addiction. The device is expected to be available in the market in 2007.
Drug addiction and chronic diseases are among the most severe human conditions, bringing with them a huge social and economic burden. Drug addiction is a major cause of crime and social instability, while chronic diseases are becoming more widespread thanks to ageing societies and improved medical care which is prolonging people's lives more than ever before. By alleviating the continuous efforts required to administer drug-based treatments and therapies, the IntelliDrug micro-system will help sufferers to live a more normal life.
IntelliDrug, which stands for 'Intelligent intra-oral medicine delivery micro-system to treat addiction and chronic diseases', is funded under the information society technologies (IST) priority of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The project is led by Assuta Medical Centres, an Israeli company operating modern equipped hospitals, and brings together 10 partners including academic institutions, research centres and industrial organisations from Germany, Poland, Italy, Spain, Israel and Switzerland. IntelliDrug's main aim is to develop intelligent micro- and nano-systems to provide an alternative approach drug delivery, cy addressing key technologies such as biosensors and secure communication, low volume controlled drug handling, and component integration into wearable systems to manage health status.
The new device currently under development is a dental appliance, of removable or fixed type, that looks similar to natural teeth aligned in the patient's dental arch, thus allowing free eating and speaking. The device containing the medicine and delivery system is placed in the mouth and the medicine is released according to the patient's needs, for periods lasting days, weeks or months. The micro-system comprises a medication release mechanism, a built-in intelligence, micro-sensors, and micro-actuators. It will be possible to adjust the amount of medicine by a remote control available as a part of the system. The medicine released will either be absorbed by the oral mucosa or swallowed by the patient. The remote control will also inform the patient and physician if the drug container needs to be refilled, at which point the device can be reloaded with fresh medication in a simple non-invasive way.
According to the project partners, the benefits of the device for patients are its anatomical shape, assuring that the drug delivery is more discreet and less inconvenient than insulin pumps, yet with better control and adjustment of drug delivery in comparison to drug plasters and traditional pills. Non-invasive drug delivery to the oral tissues will replace injections, avoiding pain, discomfort and infections. Blood level of medication will be better controlled than in conventional administration, and if needed, a stable medication level in blood can be achieved, making the drug more efficient and reducing side effects.
Among the drugs used for testing the device will be insulin, used to treat diabetes; galantamine, used to treat Alzheimer's disease; and naltrexone, a drug that blocks all opiates from binding to opiate receptors in the brain, making drug addicts immune to the effects of heroin of morphine, and considered the most effective therapeutic weapon against overdose. The prototype will be ready and tested by the end of 2006 and the device is expected to be available on the market in 2007.
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