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Electronic Pill Developed to Monitor Stomach Disorders

Electronic Pill Developed to Monitor Stomach Disorders

Tuesday, 5 February, 2019 - 06:00
Researchers develop an electronic pill to monitor stomach disorders. (Getty Images)
San Francisco, London - Asharq Al-Awsat
MIT engineers have designed an ingestible, Jell-O-like pill that, upon reaching the stomach, quickly swells to the size of a soft, squishy tennis ball big enough to stay in the stomach for an extended period of time.

According to the German news agency, the inflatable pill is embedded with a sensor that continuously tracks the stomach's temperature for up to 30 days.

If the pill needs to be removed from the stomach, a patient can drink a solution of calcium that triggers the pill to quickly shrink to its original size and pass safely out of the body.

The new pill is made of hydrogels, mixtures of polymers and water, which enables it to quickly swell in the stomach while remaining impervious to the stomach's acidic environment.

The Phys.org website cited Xuanhe Zhao, associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, saying that "the dream is to develop a smart pill that once swallowed stays in the stomach and monitors the patient's health for a long time such as a month."

The research team said that the pill they developed is significantly tough, after they mechanically squeezed it thousands of times, at forces even greater than what the pill would experience from regular contractions in the stomach.

"The stomach applies thousands to millions of cycles of load to grind food down. And we found that even when we make a small cut in the membrane, and then stretch and squeeze it thousands of times, the cut does not grow larger," a researcher explained.

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