By Terry McGuire, Co-Founder & Managing General Partner, Polaris Partners
Big things sometimes come in small packages. That’s certainly true for the MicroCHIPS drug delivery device, which is no bigger than a memory stick.
Today in the journal Science Translational Medicine, Polaris’ MicroCHIPS reports the first successful clinical trial with its implantable, wirelessly controlled and programmable microchip-based drug delivery device.
In the trial, seven patients with osteoporosis received the MicroCHIPS implant, which contained daily doses of the marketed bone building drug teriparatide. Instead of patients taking daily injections of the drug, the device released the appropriate dosages at very specific times each day of the trial.
Why is this important? Simple. Patients were allowed to forget for a period of time that they had osteoporosis. The device relieved them from the daily rituals that create the burden of disease. And no less important, the patients, their physicians and families were comforted by knowing that compliance wouldn’t be an issue.
It’s not hard to envision the positive medical implications from this device, and not just for those roughly 80 thousand patients who take daily injections of teriparatide now.
As we celebrate today’s moment, let’s remember how big a triumph this really is. After all, the MicroCHIPS device is not an iteration of a known device. It is truly the first of its kind (something that is harder and harder to say anymore).
What does that mean? Well, let me identify a few big areas.
First, the company needed to design and fabricate a way to reliably and safely open a small, single drug reservoir with an electric signal. At the same time, they needed to develop a hermetic seal that would ensure the drug couldn’t escape or allow moisture to ingress into the reservoir. The microchip needed to protect the drug for long periods of time while in the body and the opening of each reservoir couldn’t damage the drug when it came time to release each dose.
They then needed to wrap this technology around wireless, programmable hardware and create software along with it. While all this development was occurring, they also needed to establish a process that allowed small quantities (micrograms) of complex protein drugs to be filled in the individual reservoirs.
Doesn’t sound simple does it. Well, big ideas never are.
Today’s positive clinical trial results are a very rich affirmation for all of those at MicroCHIPS and MIT who believed in this possibility. Bob Farra, Bob Langer, Michael Cima, Norm Sheppard and others (including Polaris) never gave up on the mission of the company and believed in the technology.
We congratulate them on this very important achievement.