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Sensor-Based Inflatable Pills Developed By MIT Engineers

An ingestible gelatin candy like pill has been designed by researchers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Just after reaching the stomach, the pill swells rapidly into a squashy sphere equivalent to the size of a ping pong ball, which can be set sustain in the stomach for a quite long period.

This swellable pill is implanted with a sensor that continuously tracks the temperature of the stomach for up to a month. The pill can also be easily removed from the patient’s stomach when he/she intakes calcium solution. As calcium triggers the rapid shrinkage of the pill back to its original size and safely pass out of the body.

The innovative technology-based pill is prepared from two different types of hydrogels, comprising the arrangement of specific polymers and water that resemble the uniformity of Jell-O. This polymer-water combination allows the pill to rapid inflate after reaching the stomach, though remaining resistant to the churning acidic environment in the stomach.

In the future, there may be some possibilities for researchers to more thoroughly monitor the internal body organs by embedding a number of different sensors in the pill and delivering it to the stomach. Various sensors can be used to continuously observe any indication of viral or bacterial infection, pH levels, and another diagnosis. Apart from sensors, tiny cameras can also be embedded into the pills to visualize the progression of ulcers or tumors.

The development of this innovative diagnosis pill has begun earlier. Last year, RMIT University, Australia and start-up Atmo Biosciences have signed a deal to develop and commercialize ingestible sensors that are able to quantify gases generated in the gut to identify gut-related problems.

The deal conditions involve the firm to conduct Phase II clinical trials for approval of the innovative technology and along with further development of the technology by expanding the range of gases detection by the sensors.