An artificial tooth-like device can now orally supply the correct dosage of medicine at the exact time to the patient.
The device, called 'IntelliDrug' is of size two molars and makes sure that the patient takes the correct amount of medicine, at precisely the correct time.
The electronic and software components in the evolutionary machine facilitates doctors to adjust doses during the course of treatment, as well as track the history of the therapy.
"The objective of this technology is to offer an alternative to fully controlled drug delivery, in terms of dosage, timing, etc., in a non-invasive manner," Discovery quoted Andy Wolff, co-founder of Harutzim, Israel-based Saliwell, which spun out of Tel Aviv-based Assuta Medical Centres, as saying.
The IntelliDrug device is made of stainless steel and polymers, and comprises of a drug reservoir, a micro-fluidic duct, an electrically controlled valve, sensors, and two batteries. The medication is placed into the reservoir as a solid pill.
The water from saliva passes through a membrane and generates pressure in the drug reservoir. A valve is opened by a micro-controller and this valve releases the pressurized solution into the mouth at programmed intervals. Meanwhile, a sensor keeps track of the medicine flowing out and monitors the pill as it becomes depleted.
The device can even be controlled by an external remote control, which uses infrared to open the valve.
Because the drugs pass through cheek tissue, instead of the intestines and stomach, the body has a better chance of absorbing the medicine.
According to Wolff, the prosthetic tooth could be installed as part of a removable denture, a mouth guard, a bridge, an orthodontic bracket, or a dental implant, depending on the person.
"The potential for a device like this is that it could provide for delivery of something local in the mouth," said John Yagiela, professor in the School of Dentistry and chair of the Division of Diagnostic and Surgical Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles.
But the downside is that it needs space in the mouth that might not exist.
"Not a lot of people are missing two molar teeth," said Yagiela.
Wolff said that the IntelliDrug device could be on the market within two years.