Gut Health Monitoring Indigestible Sensor

June 12, 2018  Source: Ddu 139

Scientists from MIT have developed an ingestible chip involving a genetically engineered probiotic E. coli strain that can monitor the gut health. By consuming this chip, a light would be generated by detecting the blood flow in the gut region. The quantity of light generated would be transmitted to a smartphone, which could easily diagnose any kind of gastrointestinal distress.

To begin with, the scientists focused on gastrointestinal bleeding where light was emitted when the bacteria encountered heme (iron-containing compound forming nonprotein part of hemoglobin). The sensor is about 1.5 inches long and requires about 13 microwatts power. It is equipped with a 2.7-volt battery that could power the device for about 1.5 months if used continuously.

Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of MIT’s School of Engineering and Vannevar Bush, the Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, one of the senior authors of the study said, “The focus of this work is on system design and integration to combine the power of bacterial sensing with ultra-low-power circuits to realize important health sensing applications.”

Mark Mimee, the co-lead author said, “The goal with this sensor is that you would be able to circumvent an unnecessary procedure by just ingesting the capsule, and within a relatively short period of time you would know whether or not there was a bleeding event.”

Mimee further added, “Most of the work we did in the paper was related to blood, but conceivably you could engineer bacteria to sense anything and produce light in response to that; Anyone who is trying to engineer bacteria to sense a molecule related to disease could slot it into one of those wells, and it would be ready to go.”

Scientists predicted that the sensors can also be created to carry multiple strains of bacteria, in order to diagnose varied conditions.

By Ddu