With ingestible pill, you can track fart development in real time
January 17, 2019 6:20 PM Subscribe
Scientists often hope to break ground with their research. But a group of Australian researchers would likely be happy with breaking wind. The team developed an ingestible electronic capsule to monitor gas levels in the human gut. When it’s paired with a pocket-sized receiver and a mobile phone app, the pill reports tail-wind conditions in real time as it passes from the stomach to the colon.
In the high-fiber test, the man passed the pill in about 23 hours. But he was not happy about it. The super dose of fiber caused abdominal pain. In its four hours in the colon, the pill recorded elevated levels of O2, which could mess up anaerobes. Indeed, an analysis of fecal bacteria during this phase showed a shift toward species associated with poor gut health.Accompanying editorial: Swallowable electronic capsules can provide gas profiles of the gut and distinguish changes in a person’s diet.
There were also problems in the low-fiber scenario. The pill took a little more than three days to work its way out. It spent 13 hours in the stomach, 5.5 in the small intestines, and a whopping 54 in the colon. In fact, about 36 hours after taking the pill, the man was given a high dose of fiber to try to move things along.
Fermentation patterns of individuals were also detectable using the capsules, which opens up the exciting possibility of monitoring a person’s response to a custom diet. We know that diet can be customized to modulate the microbiome, but in order to effectively design functional foods, feedback is needed to close the loop between a prescription and its effects — the gas-sensing capsule could provide the required link.
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