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Swallowable pill-sized microcomputer to monitor gut health passes first human trials

Xinhua,January 09, 2018 Adjust font size:

SYDNEY, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- After completing the first human trials on Tuesday, a microcomputer with sensors that can detect gas and temperature is set to revolutionize the way gastrointestinal diseases are diagnosed.

Developed by researchers at Australia's Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), the swallowable, vitamin-sized device is able to send information to a doctor's hand held monitor, or even a mobile phone.

"At some stage, one in five people will experience some kind of gastrointestinal problem in their gut," study lead and co-inventor of the capsule, Professor Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh explained to Xinhua.

"For some people this can become chronic and really disrupt a person's life."

The reason gut disorders are so hard to treat, according to Kalantar-Zadeh, is because they can be extremely difficult to diagnose.

"For gastroenterologists, the biggest problem is that they don't have any tools to help them differentiate between many of the different types of gut disorders," he said.

"Although they do have the tool of a colonoscopy, it's only when there is a visual effect from the gut disorder, for instance when there is inflammation."

"But if there is no visual indicator, then they can not tell the difference if somebody has irritable bowel syndrome or someone has malabsorption, so the only way to diagnose them is by symptoms, which can be very unreliable."

Along with the ability to correctly narrow down the diagnosis, scientists at RMIT have also revealed the device will help provide greater detail as to what food is good best suited to each individual case.

Other findings from the groundbreaking trail have contradicted long held beliefs by the medical community that the colon is always oxygen free.

"Trials showed the presence of high concentrations of oxygen in the colon under an extremely high-fibre diet," Kalantar-Zadeh said.

"This new information could help us better understand how debilitating diseases like colon cancer occur." Enditem