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Technology: The iPill

Manufacturer: Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands

Purpose: Intelligent pill technology is targeted at assisting drug development and enabling new therapies for debilitating and life-threatening digestive tract disorders such as Crohn's disease, colitis, and colon cancer.

Early adopter: Still in prototype form.

How it works: The iPill is a capsule about the size of a multivitamin that has been designed to be swallowed and pass through the digestive track naturally. It can be electronically programmed to control the delivery of medicine according to a predefined drug release profile. The iPill releases medicine from its drug reservoir via a microprocessor-controlled pump, allowing accurate programmable drug delivery.

Potential Improvement: The iPill's developers say the combination of navigational feedback, electronically controlled drug delivery, and monitoring of the intestinal tract offer the potential to improve drug candidate profiling and selection, which, they say, could ultimately accelerate the development of new drugs.

What's Next: Philips will begin testing the iPill in animals and is consulting with pharmaceutical companies to evaluate what drugs might work best with it.

Kathryn Mackenzie

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