Once-a-month birth control pill? Experiment works in animals

Once-a-month birth control pill? Experiment works in animals
Once-a-month birth control pill? Experiment works in animals

WASHINGTON (AP) – birth control pill works well if girls keep in mind to take them daily, but lacking doses may signify a surprise pregnancy. Scientists have figured out how to package a month’s source into a single capsule.

The trick: A small star-shaped gadget which unfolds from the gut and slowly releases the medication.

The experimental capsule remains years off from drugstores, but investigators reported Wednesday it functioned as designed in a necessary test in animals. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is investing $13 million to additional development of this once-a-month tablet computer, in hopes of finally improving family planning choices in developing nations.

“It’s a great deal of potential,” explained Dr. Beatrice Chen, a family planning expert at the University of Pittsburgh that was not involved with the new study. “Birth control isn’t one-size-fits-all,” and girls need more choices.

Nowadays, girls who want the ease of long-term contraception can select among different devices, in the weekly limitation, into some monthly vaginal ring into an IUD that lasts for ages.

It was not apparent that “the Pill” – among the most well-known types of birth control as it is economical and simple to use – could combine that list. Pills of sorts generally pass through the entire body a day.

A group from the laboratory of Massachusetts Institute of Technology inventor Robert Langer engineered a cure to shield pills in the harsh environment of their digestive tract.

“We developed this capsule system which resembles a starfish, which may remain in the stomach for a few days, weeks, even as little as a month at a time,” explained Dr. Giovanni Traverso of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a senior author of this analysis.

The star-shaped apparatus contains six arms, and each retains a specific medication dose. The unit is folded within an ordinary-sized capsule. Swallow the pill along with stomach acid melts the coat, allowing the superstar to unfold. It is too large to fit through the gut’s exit but not large enough to cause an obstruction. As medicine dissolves from every one of those arms, the device breaks down till it may safely pass through the digestive tract.

Langer and Traverso’s team used the technology to test turning daily medication to malaria and HIV into capsules, which lasted a couple of weeks. They are also still experimental, but longer-lasting pills daily can help patients with severe ailments better stick with therapy.

Once-a-month birth control pill? Experiment works in animals
Once-a-month birth control pill? Experiment works in animals

A logical second attempt: A month-long oral contraceptive.

To begin with, they needed to tweak the star-shaped device. They left it more powerful and turned into long-term contraceptive implants to the substances to maintain the hormone component and let it slowly seep out.

They then analyzed the contraceptive pills in cows, which have human-like digestive processes. The experimental capsules published the contraceptive quite consistently for as many as four months, and the quantity from the pigs’ blood was comparable to what daily pills provide, MIT lead writers Ameya Kirtane and Tiffany Hua reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Lyndra Therapeutics Inc., a Massachusetts company, co-founded by Langer and Traverso, is further growing the monthly pill and several different applications for its technology.

To be useful, the pill ought to be made to emit three weeks of contraception then allow to get a woman’s period, as a month’s supply of birth control pills does, Traverso said. That would alert girls as it was time to take the next dose.

Pittsburgh’s Chen cautioned that more security testing is necessary, such as how well the experimental capsule breaks and what is the appropriate dose of hormones that are different before this may be examined in girls. Other questions include whether the gadget dissolves in precisely the same fashion in various men and women.

However, if it pans out, Chen stated it would be fascinating to test combining both contraception and HIV drugs to precisely the same capsule, especially for developing nations where girls are at elevated risk of this virus, which causes AIDS.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receive support in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for content.