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A team of MIT engineers
has designed an ingestible, expanding pill
that can monitor the stomach for up to a month,
potentially tracking cancers, ulcers
and other GI conditions.
Soft and squishy, it's made from two types of hydrogels,
the combination of which enables the pill to quickly swell
while remaining impervious
to the stomach's acidic environment.
If the patient needs to remove the pill,
they can simply drink a solution of calcium ions
containing more calcium than whole milk
that triggers the pill to quickly shrink back
to its original size and pass safely out of the body.
This hydrogel based design is softer, more bio-compatible
and longer lasting than current ingestible sensors,
typically made of hard plastics or metals
which are quite stiff in comparison
to the gastrointestinal tract.
The inner material of the design
are super absorbent hydrogel particles
that are used in commercial products such as diapers
for their ability to soak up liquid quickly.
The second protective hydrogel layer was designed
to encapsulate the fast swelling particles.
The outer membrane is made from a multitude
of nanoscopic crystalline chains, each folded over another
in a nearly impenetrable gridlock pattern.
To test the inflatability of the design,
researchers dumped the material in various solutions
of water and fluid resembling gastric juices.
They found the pill inflated
up to a hundred times its original size in about 15 minutes,
much faster than existing expandable hydrogels.
To test the pill's toughness,
the researchers mechanically squeezed it thousands of times
at forces greater than the pill would ever experience
for regular contractions in the stomach.
They found the design is both soft like tofu or jello
but extremely robust.
Finally, to show their ability
to track environmental changes in the stomach,
the researchers embedded
within their design a small commercial temperature sensor
which allows them to accurately
and remotely track activity patterns within the body
for up to 30 days.
Down the road, the researchers envision the pill
may safely deliver a number of different sensors
to the stomach to monitor for instance pH levels
or signs of certain bacteria or viruses.
Tiny cameras may also be able to be embedded into the design
to image the progress of tumors or ulcers over time.
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Jell-O-like, expanding pill

65 Folder Collection
jbsatvtac1 published on August 22, 2019
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