Sunday January 19, 2020
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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.

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

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5G Smartphones Priced Around $150 To Be Unveiled By End of This Year: Huawei President

An estimated 5 million 5G capable smartphones were sold in December 2019 alone

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Additionally, Chinese local research agencies suggested that 20 per cent of all mid range smartphones will support 5G, thanks to the expansion of the network in the country. Pixabay

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei’s President for 5G product line, Yang Chaobin believes that 5G smartphones priced around $150 are expected to be launched by the end of 2020 or in early 2021.

Huawei, along with its sub-brand Honor, has launched a number of 5G smartphones in 2019, including Mate 30 5G series, Mate 20 X 5G, Mate X 5G, Nova 6 5G, Honor V30 series, among others, news portal GizmoChina reported on Friday.

Recently, the company announced that it has shipped 6.9 million units of 5G smartphones as of December 2019, in addition to offering end-to-end 5G solutions. Additionally, Chinese local research agencies suggested that 20 per cent of all mid range smartphones will support 5G, thanks to the expansion of the network in the country.

An estimated 5 million 5G capable smartphones were sold in December 2019 alone. It is expected that more than 20 per cent of the smartphones under $290 will be 5G-enabled this year.

By 2021, the same statistics are expected to be applicable across the globe. Xiaomi co-founder Lei Jun recently announced the company is planning to pump $7 billion in 5G, AI and IoT over the next five years.

Earlier, Lei had also revealed that the company is planning to release more than 10 5G phones this year. US-based investment banking and financial service company Goldman Sachs has also forecasted a hefty 200 million 5G smartphone shipments globally this year.

Smartphones
Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei’s President for 5G product line, Yang Chaobin believes that 5G smartphones priced around $150 are expected to be launched by the end of 2020 or in early 2021. Wikimedia Commons

The new predicted value is about 20 times more than the sales figure of 2019.

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According to the estimates, there will be about 1 million new 5G base stations in China this year. This is higher than the original 600,000 prediction by Goldman Sachs. (IANS)