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Image Credit: RMIT University

Image Credit: RMIT University

RMIT University develops sensor capsule to diagnose gut disorders

Results of new trials on a breakthrough swallowable sensor have revealed that the device is 3,000 times more accurate than the current technology being used to diagnose many gut disorders.

RMIT University, Australia researchers have developed a revolutionary gas-sensing capsule that, according to the findings, could surpass breath testing as the benchmark for diagnosing gut disorders. This will pave the way to solving previously undiagnosed conditions.

As reported by the University, the vitamin pill-sized capsule can provide real time detection and measurement of hydrogen, carbon dioxides and oxygen in the gut. The data collected can then be sent to a mobile phone.

The University’s Dr Kyle Berean, the co-inventor of the capsule, shared that the second human trials have revealed information about gas production in the gut, which was previously masked when measured indirectly through the breath.

Dr Berean, who is also the Chief Technology Officer at Atmo Bioscience, explained that the rate of false positive and false negative diagnosis that breath tests give is a real problem in gastroenterology.

Therefore, being able to measure these biomarkers at concentrations, over 3,000 times greater than breath tests, is quite astonishing.

More importantly, he added, this test is non-invasive and allows the patient to continue with their daily life as they normally would.

Intestinal gases are currently used to diagnose disorders including small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and carbohydrate malabsorption.

Because of the lack of reliable tests available to gastroenterologists, of the one-in-five people worldwide who will suffer from gastrointestinal disorder in their lifetime, almost a third will remain undiagnosed.

Professor Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh, the study lead and capsule co-inventor, explained that the results showed high sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio in measuring the concentration of intestinal hydrogen, thereby providing valuable information at the site of intestinal gas production.

He added that this gave them confidence that their new technology could potentially solve many mysteries of the gut.

Not only that, but this will also help the large portion of the population who have not been able to find a useful diagnosis or treatment for their symptoms.

An immune mechanism that has never been reported before was observed during the first human trials. It revealed that the stomach releases oxidising chemicals to break down and beat foreign compounds that are staying in the stomach for longer than usual.

A direct comparison between measuring hydrogen production within the gut through the gas-sensing capsule and indirect measurement through breath testing was done in the second paper.

Trials were conducted on nine healthy individuals in a blinded comparative study on absorbable versus fermentable carbohydrates.

A Melbourne based start-up, Atmo Biosciences, to which the co-inventor Dr Berean is a Chief Technology Officer, is set to commercialise this revolutionary technology.

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