Scientists have developed an experimental ingestible electronic capsule that can provide information about the microbes present in the human gut.
The electronic capsule can also detect gases such as oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide in the gut.
A research team led by scientists at Australia’s RMIT University developed the pill, which measures hydrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen gases in the gut in real time.
The capsule is the size of a vitamin pill, and the first trials have already turned out some fascinating new information about what’s happening in the human digestive tract.
The capsule provided a potentially powerful diagnostic technique, and could offer unique insights into the effects of diet and medical supplements.
It might also translate into a monitoring tool that can be used to help develop individualized diets, the study showed.
“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.
The pills consist of a gas-permeable membrane, gas and temperature sensors, a microcontroller, batteries, antennas and a wireless transmitter.
It can stay in the body for days working its way though the gastrointestinal tract.
The human trials involved seven people on low and high-fiber diets.
The capsule was able to accurately detect the onset of food fermentation.
The team used ultrasound to compare the location of the capsule in the body with the changes in gases.