The creator of a new generation of ”smart pills” that allow lifesaving drugs to be released into the body on demand has been given the world’s richest technology prize for leading a biomedical revolution that is helping millions around the globe. Dr Robert Langer, the Harvard professor who heads the world’s largest biomedical engineering laboratory at MIT, was awarded the Millennium Technology Prize here late on Wednesday. He is now working on ”smart injections” that pass through the skin without needles. The diminutive and downbeat doctor of chemical engineering has often been described as a ”pharmaceutical postman” for managing to deliver life-saving drugs to the right part of the body, in the right dose and at the right time. What that really means, he explained, within minutes of winning the US$ 1.2 million prize, is that ”depending on how smart a pill is, you can target a disease in a controlled way”. Langer, sometimes seen as ”the professor of the impossible”, said he was now busy ”using ultrasound to open the nano pores of the skin so that drugs can pass in non-invasively. It’s like Star Trek but if you had the choice between being injected or not injected, you know which one you would choose”.
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