Researchers make 2 discoveries as ingestible capsule finishes human trials

Researchers from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have completed the first human trials using a gas-sensing swallowable capsule. The team made two separate discoveries that could improve research into gastrointestinal disorders. Findings are published in Nature Electronics.

The ingestible capsule, developed by lead author Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, is capable of detecting and measuring gut gases in real-time. Data is sent to a mobile phone for analysis, eliminating the need for invasive procedures.

In this study, researchers outlined their findings from the first round of human trials that included seven healthy participants with low and high fiber diets.

"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," Kalantar-zadeh said. "This could represent a gastric protection system against foreign bodies. Such an immune mechanism has never been reported before."

The capsule also found, in high fiber participants, the presence of oxygen in the colon, information which could prove to be valuable in seeing how diseases like colon cancer occur in the body.

"The trials show that the capsules are perfectly safe, with no retention,” said co-inventor Kyle Berean. “Our ingestible sensors offer a potential diagnostic tool for many disorders of the gut from food nutrient malabsorption to colon cancer. It is good news that a less invasive procedure will now be an option for so many people in the future.”