Ingestible robotics has been a rapidly growing field in recent years. A few startups have been working on commercializing this technology, which could allow for internal monitoring and medicine delivery without the need for invasive procedures. Now, a joint team from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed an ingestible module that contains sensors to monitor the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
The module is shaped like a pill and contains several sensors. The system relies on electromagnetic fields, using a coil operated outside the body to detect the pill’s progress through the GI tract. The external system can determine the pill’s location based on the strength of the electromagnetic read relative to its position.
Researchers have tested the system on large non-human animals and were able to accurately determine the system’s position within 5-10 millimeters. The external reference sensor helps account for the fact that every time an animal or human is beside the coils, they may not be in the same position as before. “In the absence of having X-rays as your ground truth, it’s difficult to map out exactly where this pill is, unless you have a consistent reference that is always in the same location,” said co-author Khalil Ramadi.
Early applications for this technology include detecting constipation, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and gastroparesis. This system could be used at home, eliminating the need to visit a doctor’s office or hospital for diagnosis.
MIT associate professor Giovanni Traverso said, “The ability to characterize motility without the need for radiation, or more invasive placement of devices, I think will lower the barrier for people to be evaluated.”
There is no specific timeline for the system’s release. Next steps include testing the system in animals and then in clinical trials with humans before partnering with manufacturers to bring it to the market.
Ingestible robotics is a growing field of technology that allows for internal monitoring and drug delivery without the need for invasive procedures. The ingestible module has sensors packed into a pill-shaped module. The external system determines the pill’s location by detecting the strength of the electromagnetic read relative to its position.
The early applications of the technology include the ability to detect constipation, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and gastroparesis early on. The ability to use this system at home means people do not have to visit a doctor’s office or hospital for diagnosis.
What are ingestible robotics?
Ingestible robotics are tiny robots or devices designed to be swallowed by a person, with the goal of performing a specific task within the body, such as monitoring or delivering medicine, without the need for invasive procedures. These devices are typically small and pill-shaped, and they can be made from a variety of materials, including biocompatible polymers, metals, and even edible materials like gelatin. The field of ingestible robotics has been growing rapidly in recent years, as researchers and startups explore new ways to use these devices to improve healthcare outcomes and patient comfort.