SYDNEY – Swallowable gas-sensing devices developed in Australia have revealed mysterious intestinal mechanisms, including a possible new immune system, academic sources said on Tuesday.
The capsules, developed by the Melbourne-based RMIT University, were tested on humans for prevention and diagnosis of gastrointestinal disorders and diseases, which affect one in five people in the world in their lifetime.
“We found that the stomach releases oxidizing chemicals to break down and beat foreign compounds that are staying in the stomach for longer than usual,” said Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, a co-inventor who led the study.
This, he added, “could represent a gastric protection system against foreign bodies. Such an immune mechanism has never been reported before.”
The research could also help in reducing the need of invasive procedures such as colonoscopies, the University said in a statement.
The capsule, the size of a vitamin pill, detects and measures intestinal gases such as hydrogen, carbon dioxides and oxygen in real time and sends the data to a mobile phone.
The study also showed the colon might contain oxygen, a finding which might improve the understanding of diseases such as colon cancer.
“Trials showed the presence of high concentrations of oxygen in the colon under an extremely high-fiber diet,” said Kalantar-zadeh, adding that until now it was believed that the colon was oxygen free.
The trials, which were carried out on seven healthy individuals on high and low-fiber diets, tested the capacity of the capsules to accurately show the onset of food fermentation.
According to the statement, the results also highlighted the capsule’s potential to clinically monitor digestion and intestinal health.
The university said that the trials showed that the capsules could be used as a more effective method of measuring microbiome activities in the stomach, replacing the current use of fecal samples or surgical procedures.
“The trials show that the capsules are perfectly safe, with no retention,” said co-inventor Kyle Berean.