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Drugs just where you need them with the iPill

Pills for ills and bellyaches
By Jo Best, Contributor
40152198-1-i-pilll1.jpg
1 of 3 Jo Best/ZDNET

Pills for ills and bellyaches

Suffering from a dodgy stomach? Philips has come up with a high-tech pill that will make sure the right dose of drugs is delivered right to the heart – or the guts – of your problem.

Here's the pill in question, known as the iPill – a 11 x 26 mm capsule designed to deliver its load only when it reaches the right area of the intestines.

How does it know how far along the digestive tract it is? By analysing the body's pH level as it travels. According to Philips, the body's "pH rises sharply upon exiting the stomach and becomes progressively alkaline from the upper intestine onwards".

The iPill can take the acidity information and combine it with data on how long it has spent in the body to decide the appropriate time to deliver the drug load it's carrying.

The iPill's cleverness doesn't stop there, however.

Photo credit: Philips

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2 of 3 Jo Best/ZDNET

A delivery location can be loaded onto the iPill's microprocessor by way of a control program.

The program can then instruct the iPill how to drop its drugs – in a burst or released slowly, for example – as well as the location in the gut.

Other data, including body temperature, can be analysed by the iPill and transmitted back to a control unit outside the body via the pill's wireless transceiver. The unit can then amend the pill's instruction's accordingly.

Photo credit: Philips

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3 of 3 Jo Best/ZDNET

The iPill which includes a microprocessor, battery, pH sensor, temperature sensor, RF wireless transceiver, fluid pump and drug reservoir, is currently in prototype stage.

According to Philips, however, the pill is ready for large scale manufacturing.

Photo credit: Philips

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