Saturday November 16, 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.

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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)

Next Story

OPPO Plans to Bring 5G Smartphone Devices in India Soon

OPPO also aims to double the capacity to 100 million smartphones by next year

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OPPO
OPPO Chief 5G Scientist at the Qualcomm 5G Summit 2019 in Barcelona said that the new device will be powered by Qualcomm's dual-mode 5G mobile platform and support both standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) networks. Pixabay

Chinese smartphone manufacturer OPPO that showcased its Reno 5G smartphone in partnership with Qualcomm and Jio at the India Mobile Congress (IMC) is all set to bring it to the country soon, a top company executive said on Friday.

The smartphone manufacturer which registered 11.8 per cent market share in third quarter (Q3) in the country, is looking for a suitable time to introduce 5G products in the Indian market, said Sumit Walia, VP, Product and Marketing, OPPO India.

“We believe in bringing next-level technology in India at par with global. We have started working on 5G at our Hyderabad research and development centre and are significantly working on commercialising 5G devices. Right now, we are scanning the telecom landscape to examine how things will move forward. We are looking for a suitable opportunity and time to introduce 5G products in the India market,” Walia told IANS.

OPPO last month unveiled plans to launch a dual-mode 5G smartphone soon. Announced by Henry Tang, OPPO’s Chief 5G Scientist at the Qualcomm 5G Summit 2019 in Barcelona, the new device will be powered by Qualcomm’s dual-mode 5G mobile platform and support both standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) networks.

By September, OPPO filed applications for over 2,500 global patent families and declared more than 1,000 families of 5G Standard Essential Patents to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

With clocking double-digit market share in Q3, the company is looking forward to increase its market share in 2020 with targeting $300-$500 smartphone segment in India.

OPPO
Chinese smartphone manufacturer OPPO that showcased its Reno 5G smartphone in partnership with Qualcomm and Jio at the India Mobile Congress (IMC) is all set to bring it to the country soon. Pixabay

“In 2020, we are focusing primarily on $300-$500 smartphone segment. The company is looking to invest more in this segment. For this, we are aiming to launch premium smartphones and update the Reno series,” said the company executive.

For OPPO, India has been a very strategic market.

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There is an ongoing investment of Rs 2,200 crore in the country and the company is currently manufacturing 50 million smartphones in a year at its Greater Noida factory.

OPPO aims to double the capacity to 100 million smartphones by next year, said Walia. (IANS)