A drug delivery device based on a prosthetic tooth has started clinical trials. The device, developed by the EU’s IntelliDrug project can release controlled doses of drug at regular intervals. It consists of a reservoir, valve and programmable timing controls, and can also be controlled by infrared, which would allow doses to be altered during the course of treatment.
“The oral cavity is very accessible, so the device can be easily installed, refilled or have its batteries replaced,” says Ben Z Beiski, IntelliDrug co-inventor and project manager. Absorbing the drug through the buccal (cheek) tissue also means much greater bioavailability.
The batteries in the device should last three months, while the frequency with which the reservoir needs refilling will vary, depending on the type of drug and dosage. The expected range is from every week to every month.
In a later system, the team hopes to use radio-frequency identification and later GSM telephony to communicate with the device.
The device has been tested successfully on pigs, which have similar oral characteristics to humans. In November 2007, IntelliDrug began a clinical trial with twelve volunteers following naltrexone therapy, a heroin addiction treatment.
The device can be applied to any drug, and Beiski sees applications for hypertensive patients to combat morning increases in blood pressure. Chronic pain, diabetics and Alzheimer’s patients could benefit, too.
For pharmaceutical companies it will be possible to developed patented formulations of generic drugs using the system.