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Medicine Management via Bodypart

One reason why medications for chronic conditions don't work as well as they should is simply, that patients forget to take them or take them at the wrong time. Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, schizophrenia, all severe illnesses affecting the brain. Medication can help, but only when it is taken on time.

Patients often don't realise how frequently they forget to take their medicine or are unwilling to tell a doctor they haven't adhered to a treatment program. So when doctors see suffering patients, they don't know if the patient really needs to change medication, or whether they plain forgot to take it, and are lying, or mis-remembering.

Electronic drug dispensers, care staff who stop by regularly, drug date planners - all manner of systems have been trialled, with various levels of expense, and degrees of success. Even care staff systems fail when the patient gets hold of their medication when no one is looking, and takes the whole lot in one go.

One idea, new to drug dispensation, is not to dispense the drug at all. Instead, take a leaf out of drip solutions. Anchor the dispenser to part of the patient, let it become a part of their body and, every time a dose is required, it dispenses straight into the digestive tract, or, even straight into the bloodstream.

The first such device is already under development. The Intellidrug initiative has pushed for European Union support for a cybernetic implant to a patient's tooth. This implant then contains all the drug dosage for a significant while.

The dental prosthesis releases accurate micro-dosages directly into the mucous membranes in the mouth. Saliva enters the reservoir via a membrane, dissolves part of the solid drug and flows through a small duct into the mouth cavity, where it is absorbed by the mucous membranes in the patient's cheeks.

As it can administer accurate micro amounts over continuous periods, there is no peak concentration followed by drop off effect as seen with conventional pills. Instead, the drug level is maintained constantly, over time. Just imagine a painkiller, that never built to a level, then wore off when you needed another - just stayed at a constant level, continually.

Plenty of locations around the body are accessible for implants. The attraction of the mouth is ready accessibility for maintenance and refilling - no surgery required. The disadvantage is the patient has to surrender teeth to have an implant fitted - current models are the size of two conjoined molar teeth.

Still, it is a nice idea, and useful for patients who really cannot afford to miss a pill. For everyone else, it is not really acceptable yet. Certainly, the teeth are a very attractive place to augment - we have many materials stronger than enamel, that could give a more lasting bite against junk food and sugars, so we could use the space our natural teeth take up, for all manner of prosthetic implants. However, there is still a big problem with tooth prosthetics - they cannot detect pressure thresholds, like natural teeth can, and so cannot tell when they are biting too hard, or slicing through one another. Until that issue is solved, mouths full of BlueTooth teeth, drug-dispenser molars, and enamel-encased deep bone reverberation mp3 players, are…unlikely.

References

Cybertooth to Take Place of Pills, Injections
http://www.virtualworldlets.net/Archive/IndividualNews.php?News=2027

Staff Comments

 


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