The Ingestible – a smart pill that can change the health sector forever

The Ingestible – a smart pill that can change the health sector forever

A smart pill that can measure important health parameters and inflammations in your gut. It might sound a bit far-fetched, but with the technology we’re developing the future is actually just around the corner. Recently, a publication about this smart pill appeared in the Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems.

What if… you could monitor and improve your gut-, and overall health and wellbeing by taking a small pill?

The Ingestible is a small pill, equipped with sensors, that could have the potential to explore the otherwise almost inaccessible environment, the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Learning more about this environment could help us improving gut health and personalizing nutrition in the future. The gastro-intestinal (GI) tract is the main part of the human digestive system and we know it plays a major role in our overall health status. There has even been shown to be a clear link with mental processes. Yet we still know so little about it, because the GI remains largely inaccessible for unobtrusive monitoring. The Ingestible will change this, but the project is still in an early stage.

“The Ingestible” is a project by OnePlanet Research Center: a multidisciplinary collaboration between Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Radboud University, Radboudumc and imec. The Ingestible is an innovation project within our health and nutrition domain. Imec has lots of experience with sensors and wearables, WUR brings knowledge in the field of nutrition and chemistry, Radboud University provides the knowledge of chemistry and physics, and at Radboudumc we work together with the gastro-enterologists.

In this publication our researchers describe all kind of challenges and opportunities related to the Ingestible. For example, related to the development of new sensors, on how to communicate with sensors, how to power the smart pill, etc. The team also analyzed existing smart pills and share our vision of where we can add our unique value in developing the Ingestible.

Figure: The Ingestible (OnePlanet Research Center)

Now, gut examinations are often cumbersome and unpleasant. If all you have to do is to swallow a pill, it’s much easier to perform an examination. On a large scale and from the safe environment of your own home. That way we can learn and improve our understanding of the role of the gut in health and disease. An ingestible sensor can provide the user direct feedback on nutrition and behavior. It can also help doctors monitor gut diseases and improve the tailoring of treatments.

Shoot for the moon

We are developing a completely new technology that can lead to far-reaching innovations in healthcare. To get to that point we will start many sub-projects, which all require a lot of research and time. Within three years from now, we want to have developed an inflammation sensor and integrate it into a smart pill. Also, we will develop dedicated chips to interface with the sensors. And we need to set up studies to further demonstrate the quality of our sensor. Within five to ten years we expect to perform the first measurements in clinical trials.

Would you like to know more about the Ingestible? Contact Aniek Even (click here)




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