Researchers recently designed and showcased a small sized voltaic cell that can function through acidic fluids released by stomach. This system can produce sufficient power to operate small sensors to drug delivery equipment that live in gastrointestinal tract for long period of time. This kind of power can offer much lower-cost and safer options to regular batteries that are now used for empowering such equipment as per researchers. A research affiliate working at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Giovanni Traverso, explains, “We need to come up with ways to power these ingestible systems for a long time. We see the GI tract as providing a really unique opportunity to house new systems for drug delivery and sensing, and fundamental to these systems is how they are powered.”
The team had several other members like Traverso who is a biomedical and gastroenterologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, also happens to be one of the senior most authors in this study, apart from him the team had a David H.Koch Institute professor from MIT, Robert Langer, and lastly the HOD of MIT’s electrical engineering and computer science department, Anantha Chandrakasan. The lead author of this paper is a postdoc from MIT, Philip Nadeau. Langer and Traverso have been responsible for testing and building of several ingestible instruments that can be used for sensing different physiological conditions like heart rate, breathing rate, drug delivery, or temperature for treatment of diseases like malaria.
Langer adds, “This work could lead to a new generation of electronic ingestible pills that could someday enable novel ways of monitoring patient health and/or treating disease.” Such devices are powered with very small sized batteries, however, regular batteries self-discharge with time and can be of high risk for safety. It is for this reason, they all worked together to develop a lower-power electronics.
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