Scientists are developing smart pills that can be swallowed to measure the specifics of intestinal gas. The novel technology opens the possibilities for doctors to detect and diagnose gastroenterological problems.
Researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and Monash University suggest that gases in the human body can reveal a number of diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer.
Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh, an electrical engineer and a professor at RMIT, who is also the lead investigator of the research, says that the smart pill can collect data about the gas in the gut then send the data to a smartphone for examination.
There are currently non-invasive methods, such as a breath test, for measuring intestinal gases but they are not very reliable.
"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 Kalantar-Zadeh.
Medical experts believe that the precise measurement of intestinal gases can speed up the knowledge of how gut microorganisms are responsible for gastrointestinal disorders, which will assist in the development of innovative treatments and diagnostic techniques.
Many people throughout the world complain of digestive problems. The smart pills can also be used by people to understand how their gut responds to particular food. Data collected from the pills can help people understand and customize the best suitable diet for them.
Animal testing has shown that the smart pills are safe and efficient in transmitting relevant data.
The smart pills measure just about 10 millimeters, or less than half an inch, long and will cost about $10 each. The pill will be easy to swallow like a normal capsule.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that colon cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. Early screening can help, so that treatment can reduce complications. The CDC recommends that people 50 years old and above, both men and women, should consult their doctors to get tested for colon cancer.
In the near future, the smart pill will help doctors understand and detect colon cancer early and reduce deaths related to the illness.
The paper was published in the journal Trends in Biotechnology.