Just when you thought that you were safe from the “Fantastic Voyage” shrinkonauts, Phillips has patented a deep diving drug delivery system that will release its contents on-demand, through an RF link through your innards. The mini stomach diver has a control system, comm. link, drug storage, release hatch and power supply.
The idea is to load the drug storage, have the victim swallow the thing, monitor its progress, then open the hatch at the right point to do the most good. My initial reaction to this was a big yawn: We have had time release, swallowed capsules for quite a long time. In the existing time-release pills. you swallow the capsule, and eventually the cover on the pill is eaten away by stomach acids and the drug are delivered. Some of the drugs are absorbed in the stomach, and the rest into the small intestines (where most of the nutrient absorption takes place anyway).
So back on this new discovery- why is it better than the current technology, and what happens to this gadget AFTER it delivers the drug? As I began to think about the former question (and talked to some of my doc friends), it reminded me of the variability of our species. Just because my stomach acid is stronger than a goat’s and can digest almost anything, it doesn’t mean that everyone has my same internal constitution. Point being, the ability to properly dose through a time release pill is a highly problematic undertaking. My stomach may eat through the pill coating in 30 minutes, while someone else’s may take 2 hours to get through it.
Honestly, it probably doesn’t make much difference with many of the drugs they time release. Just assume that some portion of the dosage will be delivered, and the rest will be excreted out. But, what if the doses could be delivered to just the right place at the right time? How much smaller could the doses be if the docs knew just exactly what was going to be delivered? This is the big win here and a precision, targeted delivery system could have a big impact on the fight against drug resistance.
While antibiotic resistant bugs proliferating everywhere (think MRSA, TB, etc.), anything that helps to reduce dosage and target the delivery site for better uptake is worth weight in shrinkonauts.