Microchips Biotech, an MIT spinout that is developing an implant for long-term drug delivery, has announced a first partnership with Teva Pharmaceutical, the world’s largest maker of generic drugs.
Teva will pay $35 million to Microchips to commercialize this technology in an undisclosed area. Backing from the pharmaceutical giant stands to bring the technology to a much wider market.
Microchips’ core innovation is a fingernail-sized microchip array that can be implanted in the body and programmed to release controlled doses of drugs over months or several years. The dosage or frequency can be changed wirelessly from an external device. Microchips claims the devices can deliver medications for up to 16 years.
The idea is that such a system will help patients who are dependent on daily medication better stick to their dosage schedules. It could also be a painless replacement to daily injections as a delivery mechanism.
The company is developing the tech for a number of disease areas, but has noted that diabetes, contraceptives for women, and treatments for osteoporosis are initial areas of development.
“This alliance with Teva provides a great opportunity to accelerate our technology to the market,” chief executive Cheryl Blanchard said in an email.
MIT researchers and entrepreneurs Robert Langer and Michael Cima described the idea of implant-delivered drugs in 1999 in the journal Nature, and founded Microchips in the years following that.
In 2012, the company published the results of a first test in people. Eight women with osteoporosis received their medication through the microchip array for four months. The device effectively delivered the same dosage as traditional needles and didn’t cause harm to the women in the study.
The company’s investors include Polaris Partners, Medtronic, Intersouth Partners, Flybridge Capital Partners, and Interwest Partners.