Researchers have developed a swallowable capsule measuring composition of intestinal gases that can send data into a smartphone to help monitor digestive health.
Developed by researchers from RMIT Univerisity and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, the high-tech sensors could possibly be used in diagnoses of colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease.
“We know gut microorganisms produce gases as a by-product of their metabolism, but we understand very little about how that affects our health,” said RMIT’s Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, who led the project.
“Being able to accurately measure intestinal gases could accelerate our knowledge about how specific gut microorganisms contribute to gastrointestinal disorders and food intake efficiency, enabling the development of new diagnostic techniques and treatments.”
The team believes the capsule, equipped with a microprocessor and a wireless high-frequency transmitter, would provide much more accurate results than existing non-invasive methods, mostly based on breath analysis.
“These high-tech capsules could also help people work out precisely how particular foods affect their guts,” Kalantar-zadeh said.
“With nearly half of Australia’s population complaining of digestive problems in any 12 month period, this technology could be the simple tool we need to methodically tailor our diets to our individual bodies and improve our digestive health.”
The capsules, transmitting data as they move through the digestive tract, have already been tested on animals. The trials proved the technology is effective and reliable. At the end, the capsule simply leaves the body together with food residues.
The technology was described in the latest issue of the Trends in Biotechnology journal.