Thursday February 21, 2019
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From Radio Signals A Pill Could Tell About Gut Health And Help Doctors

Scientists developed a swallowable capsule to detect bleeding in the digestive tract.

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MIT engineers have designed an ingestable sensor with bacteria programmed to sense environmental conditions and relay the information to an electronic circuit.
MIT engineers have designed an ingestable sensor with bacteria programmed to sense environmental conditions and relay the information to an electronic circuit. VOA

A pill could soon radio signals from inside your gut to help doctors diagnose diseases from ulcers to cancer to inflammation, according to a new study.

Scientists have developed a small, swallowable capsule that mixes synthetic biology and electronics to detect bleeding in the digestive tract.

The system can be adapted for a wide range of medical, environmental and other uses, the researchers say.

The biological part of the pill uses bacteria engineered to glow when exposed to heme, the iron-containing molecule in blood.

The electronic side includes a tiny light detector, computer, chip, battery, and a transmitter that sends data to a cell phone or computer.

“A major challenge for sensing in the GI tract is, the space available for a device is very limited,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology electrical engineer Phillip Nadeau.

Using very low-power electronics they designed, Nadeau and colleagues fit all the components into a capsule about 3 centimeters long by 1 centimeter wide.

A Microbiologist scientist
A Microbiologist scientist, Pixabay

It’s still a bit big to swallow. But Nadeau says with engineering work it can likely be made about a third that size.

The engineered bacteria are contained in chambers covered by a membrane that lets small molecules in but does not let the organisms out. The researchers say the bacteria can be engineered to die if they accidentally leak from the capsule. Or future models may just use the key enzymes, rather than whole bacteria.

In laboratory tests, the pill successfully distinguished pigs fed small amounts of blood from those not given blood. The capsule has not yet been tested on humans. The team aims to do so in the next year or two.

Since the components are all fairly cheap to manufacture, the researchers speculate that the cost would be in the range of tens to hundreds of dollars.

And they say the same platform could be used to detect markers of a range of illnesses. Or, it could be used to sense chemicals in the environment.

“It’s really exciting, and I think it’s got a lot of legs,” said Rice University bioengineer Jeff Tabor, who was not part of the research team.

But Tabor notes that the sensors may need to be much more sensitive than what was used in the pig tests. He says there may be much less blood in the guts of actual patients than what the pigs were given. Other conditions may have the same limitations.

Also read: One shot Nanoparticle Vaccine polio

“For many actual diseases, you might have far less of the molecule that you need to sense available to you,” he added. (VOA)

Next Story

Microsoft Claims Spurt Adoption of Artificial Intelligence In India

According to Microsoft, the company is busy democratising AI and is making the technology available on Azure Cloud to empower developers and institutions in solving difficult problems.

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India is digitally ready for a comprehensive AI framework aligned to industries' long-term strategy. Pixabay

There has been a spurt in the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) across industries in India and cloud infrastructure and rapid deployment of intelligent Cloud services will further drive AI adoption in the country, Microsoft India said on Wednesday.

In a white paper titled “Age of Intelligence,” Microsoft said the focus is to create modern mobile infrastructure, skill up the workforce and reduce data costs and cross-industry collaboration, thus extending information connectivity and digital services to the underserved segments of the population.

“Our ambition is to enable a human-centered approach to AI. India is currently at an inflection point in the adoption of AI,” said Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India as the company unveiled the white paper at the Nasscom Technology and Leadership Forum (NTLF) 2019 here.

AI
In a white paper titled “Age of Intelligence,” Microsoft said the focus is to create modern mobile infrastructure, skill up the workforce and reduce data costs and cross-industry collaboration, thus extending information connectivity and digital services to the underserved segments of the population. Pixabay

“Building on the four foundational pillars — enabling digital transformation across industries, forging coalitions for innovation, building a future-ready workforce and creating sustained societal impact — will unlock and accelerate the potential of AI,” Maheshwari added.

The white paper outlines challenges and opportunities with respect to AI and how balanced and forward looking government policies, technological advancements including growing Internet penetration and connectivity will help reap benefits of digital transformation in the years to come.

According to Microsoft, the company is busy democratising AI and is making the technology available on Azure Cloud to empower developers and institutions in solving difficult problems.

AI
There has been a spurt in the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) across industries in India and cloud infrastructure and rapid deployment of intelligent Cloud services will further drive AI adoption in the country, Microsoft India said on Wednesday.
Pixabay

“AI enables organizations to make better informed decisions by making it easy to derive insights from data, helping them expand and improve customer engagement and experiences, optimize operations and improve offerings,” read the white paper.

Also Read: Network Service Providers Pledge To Reduce The Gender Gap Between Mobile Phone Users In India By 2020
India is digitally ready for a comprehensive AI framework aligned to industries’ long-term strategy.

“With the size of the market and opportunity for growth, it’s imperative to implement AI for India that brings economic, societal and inclusive growth,” Microsoft noted. (IANS)