Engineers at the University of Calgary have developed a pill that, once swallowed, will determine how healthy or ill the patient is, and will release just the right amount of medicine accordingly.

Dubbed the Intelligent Pill or iPill, the new drug-delivery system packs a micropump and sensors that monitor the body’s temperature and pH balance into one pill. If the body’s temperature and pH reach certain levels, the iPill responds by pumping out more or less of its drug payload. It could be used to treat many ailments like AIDS or diabetes.

“If you overdose yourself with pain relievers, you are killing your kidneys and liver,” said the iPill’s inventor, Wael Badawy, an electrical engineer at the University of Calgary. “The iPill will help people have healthier kidneys and liver, as it will only deliver the dose that’s needed.”

The device also can be programmed to release drugs at various intervals. This could be particularly useful in treating diseases such as cancer or AIDS, where cocktails of many different medications may be required at constant intervals.
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