Apr 29, 2017 10:50 AM EDT
Humans will soon have more than microorganisms residing inside their bodies as MIT scientists developed ingestible electronics that can be powered wirelessly. These devices can be used to deliver drugs or track the body for any conditions.
Researchers at MIT, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, and Brigham and Women's Hospital collaborated to develop an electronic device which can be deployed inside the body and controlled wirelessly. The method has enough power to release the sensors and monitor the body temperature, heart rate, the gastrointestinal tract, and more.
Giovanni Traverso, a research affiliate at MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and a gastroenterologist and biomedical engineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said that they have been trying to find methods how to make these devices reside in the body for a long period of time. With this latest development they have done, however, there are a lot of possibilities ahead of them.
To test the method, they conducted a study on pigs and the external antenna was able to transmit power over distances of up to 10 centimeters. What's more significant about the experiment is that the energy transfer did not cause any tissue damage.
Prior to this method, the research team had tried to power these ingestible devices with galvanic cells which use the acid in the stomach to activate it. However, they discovered that the metal electrodes stopped functioning.
Aside from the wireless technique, the team is still looking for novel ways how to power these ingestibles so they will stay much longer in the gastrointestinal tract. Traverso said that they are also developing a series of other devices that can stay in the stomach in different periods of time. They also hope that they will be able to test them in humans within about five years.
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