WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- American researchers have designed an ingestible capsule controlled by wireless Bluetooth, which can be used to deliver drugs upon instructions from a user's smartphone.
The 3-D printed capsules can reside in the stomach for at least a month to treat a variety of diseases, according to a study published on Thursday in the journal Advanced Materials Technologies.
The capsules could also be designed to sense infections, allergic reactions before releasing a drug in response.
"Our system could provide closed-loop monitoring and treatment, whereby a signal can help guide the delivery of a drug or tuning the dose of a drug," said Giovanni Traverso, a visiting scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital designed a capsule with six arms that fold up before being encased. After being swallowed, it dissolves and unfolds into a Y-shape.
This enables the device to remain the stomach for about a month, before it breaks into smaller pieces and passes through the digestive tract, according to the study.
Also, one of those arms have four small compartments that can be loaded with drugs and these drugs can be packaged within polymers that allow them to be released gradually over several days.
They demonstrated that the capsule could be used to monitor temperature and relay that information directly to a smartphone within arm's length.
The researchers envisioned that this type of sensor could be used to diagnose early signs of disease and then respond with the appropriate medication.
For example, it could be used to monitor certain people at high risk for infection, such as patients who are receiving chemotherapy drugs. If infection is detected, the capsule could begin releasing antibiotics.
The current version of the device is powered by a small silver oxide battery. The researchers are exploring the possibility of replacing the battery with alternative power sources, such as an external antenna or stomach acid.