Last year, the healthcare industry passed a milestone with the FDA’s clearance of the first ingestible biosensor. A group of researchers are developing an edible battery-powered biosensor platform themselves that could be applied to a diverse range of uses from detecting diseases of the digestive system to assessing core body temperature.
In an interview with MedCity News Christopher Bettinger, an assistant professor with Carnegie Mellon University’s biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering departments, said he and research partner Jay Whitacre, a materials science and engineering professor, have been working on the technology over the past four years. They are developing sensors that would pick up data before they are flushed out of the body with the next meal and ones that could be programmed and deployed in the small intestine where the battery would be activated for longer time frames.
The biosensors could measure biomarkers or monitor gastric problems. Bettinger said one of the sensor’s optimal uses is to detect core body temperature as oral thermometers can be inaccurate. It could also be used to measure heartbeats, as well as pH levels in the small intestine to detect or predict ulcers.
Additionally, they could be used for targeted drug delivery for certain types of cancer, according to a press statement.
Bettinger said that its design includes polymer electrodes and a sodium ion electrochemical cell, which can be folded into an edible pill.
The sensors are designed to be produced economically, said Bettinger. The data they collect could be passed by email to healthcare providers to improve patient outcomes.
[Photo from Flickr user ex-magician]