Fart-tracking pill spies on your gut gases

Wednesday, 10 Jan, 2018

Now they have released the results from the first human trials of the capsule, which collects information about the gases and transmits it to a hand-held device and mobile phone for doctors to read.

The capsule could of significant value in the individualisation of drug disposition or the use of dietary manipulations, the researchers said. "For example, a healthy individual will have different gas concentrations in the stomach, small intestine and colon, and it is now very hard to accurately and noninvasively measure gut gas at specific locations".

The results from the first human trials were published on Thursday in the journal Nature Electronics.

The capsule sensor could relay its signals to an external receiver every five minutes. There is a small thermometer within it along with a radio transmitter that can send signals.

"We found that the stomach releases oxidizing chemicals to break down and beat foreign compounds that are staying in the stomach for longer than usual", said study lead Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh with RMIT. They noted that trillions of microorganisms that are actually important for good health and immunity.

Farts are a natural, healthy byproduct of your digestive system, and everyone has them from time to time, but as amusing as flatulence is, how, when and why gas forms in you can reveal a lot about your body's inner workings. High fiber prompted a spike in oxygen levels in the colon and abdominal pain in the volunteer, and followup testing of the subject's feces revealed bacteria that have been previously linked to unhealthy digestion. When the pill senses an oxygen-free environment, it exits.

An electronic capsule invented by Australian scientists has helped them discover new information about the gut that could help doctors revolutionise how they diagnose and treat digestive problems.

The scientists made the electronic sensor after a gastroenterologist (a doctor who specializes in the gastrointestinal tract and liver) asked whether the researchers could make diagnostic breath tests more reliable for gut conditions, as most breath tests are reliable just 60 percent to 70 percent of the time, Kalantar-zadeh said.

There has been talks with the team behind the tech to commercialize the capsule, with co-inventor Kyle Berean stating, "Our ingestible sensors offer a potential diagnostic tool for many disorders of the gut from food nutrient malabsorption to colon cancer". It could accurately measure the gases in the intestines.

The scientists are trying to raise up to $8 million for the next round of clinical trials of the device in 300 patients with digestive issues including irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal bacterial overgrowth. The capsule will cost $30 to $40 to make says Kalantar-Zadeh.

All going well, they hope the capsule will be on sale by 2020 for between $100 and $200.