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Birth control computer chip implanted under the skin 'could be on sale by 2018'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/8/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

If woman wishes to conceive, she simply turns off the device with a remote

Long in gestation, the idea of a computer chip implanted under the skin to regulate fertility is now within throwing distance of becoming an actuality. The idea has been with us since the Nineties, and thanks to a nudge from Microsoft's Bill Gates, such as device could be available by 2018.

An international coalition of governments, companies, philanthropies and nonprofit organizations committed to providing family planning to 120 million more women in the world by 2020.

An international coalition of governments, companies, philanthropies and nonprofit organizations committed to providing family planning to 120 million more women in the world by 2020.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
7/8/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Birth control, MICROchips, remote, under the skin


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - MicroCHIPS, an IT start-up company with links to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is developing the new contraceptive. The inserted chip can be turned on and off with a remote control if a woman later decides to conceive. 

Professor Robert S. Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology along with his colleagues Michael Cima and John Santini, developed the microchip technology that could release controlled amounts of chemicals in the 1990s.

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Langer's MIT lab received a visit from Bill Gates in 2012. Gates asked Langer whether it would be feasible to create a new method of birth control that a woman could turn on and off which she could use over a period of several years.

Langer proposed that his controlled release microchip might offer a solution. The company then developed a device measuring just 20 x 20 x 7 millimeters, designed to be implanted under the skin of the buttocks, abdomen or upper arm.

An international coalition of governments, companies, philanthropies and nonprofit organizations committed to providing family planning to 120 million more women in the world by 2020.

Containing tiny reservoirs of the hormone levonorgestrel, already used in some contraceptives, the chip dispenses levonorgestrel daily, and can hold enough of the hormone to do this for up to 16 years.

When a woman wishes to conceive, she simply turns off the device with a remote. The chip would not need to be removed from the woman until 16 years of use have elapsed. Current hormonal birth control implants last a maximum of 5 years.

According to MicroCHIPS president Robert Farra, "the idea of using a thin membrane like an electric fuse was the most challenging and the most creative problem we had to solve."

Farra also suggested "the ability to turn the device on and off provides a certain convenience factor for those who are planning their family."

Although some critics of the device are worried about the potential for the microchip to be "hacked," Farra claims that the communication between the remote and implant "has to occur at skin contact level distance," so "someone across the room cannot reprogram your implant." 

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