After years of daily birth control pills being improved upon, a team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have completed animals trials of a once-a-month birth control.
Unlike the daily pill which needs to be taken orally every day, this tiny star-shaped gadget is taken once a month and unfolds in the stomach gradually releasing the drug over the month.
“We are hopeful that this work — the first example ever of a month-long pill or capsule to our knowledge — will someday lead to potentially new modalities and options for women’s health as well as other indications,” said Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT.
While not ready for humans yet, the researchers have said the key test in animals was a success.
The team designed the star-shaped contraceptive to fit into a gelatin-coated capsule with the system able to last in the stomach.
“It has a lot of potential,” said Dr. Beatrice Chen, a family planning specialist at the University of Pittsburgh, who wasn’t involved in the new research. “Birth control is not one-size-fits-all,” and women need more options.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is investing US$13 million for further development of the once-a-month pill, in hopes of eventually improving family planning options in developing countries.