The Doctor is In (Your Skin): Incredible Medicine Implants

Imagine contracting an illness, getting sick, taking medicine and getting well – all without knowing that anything is happening at all. That is the promise of NASA’s revolutionary Biocapsules: tiny carbon nanotube structures that are inserted just under the skin to release medicine into the body when needed. The Biocapsules will sense when something is wrong with the body and release the appropriate medicine cells to combat the problem. With an unlimited lifespan and a huge storage capacity, the Biocapsules could keep diabetics healthy without the need for insulin shots for years.

The Biocapsules were, of course, invented for astronauts. On long space missions there are no hospitals in the event of illness, so the Biocapsule is meant to be a self-regulated implanted “doctor.” If an astronaut, for example, is hit with a mega-dose of space radiation (one of the biggest health concerns on a space mission), the Biocapsule would detect the danger and deploy the correct medicine to counteract any ill effects.

That doesn’t do us a whole lot of good here on Earth, of course, but NASA has other plans for us. The Biocapsule could be used to deliver insulin to diabetics, even keeping an eye on the patient’s blood sugar so no self-monitoring is necessary. With each capsule potentially containing millions of cells, diabetics could receive one implant and be finished with insulin shots forever.

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See more in Medical Marvels or under Science. May, 2012.