MIT researchers have developed an ingestible sensor that can diagnose bleeding in the stomach or other gastrointestinal issues. The 1.5 inch long cylindrical device contains millions of genetically engineered bacteria, and is powered by 2.7-volt battery.
The device has been successfully tested in pigs. To demonstrate, the team inserted the sensor in pig with induced gastrointestinal bleeding. The sensor contains engineered probiotic strain of E. Coli that causes the bacteria to light up with they hit the heme – a molecule containing iron and responsible for the red colour of haemoglobin. The device also comes with phototransistor which measures the amount of light produced by the bacterial cells and passes that information to a microprocessor which sends the signal to a computer or smartphone.
The team plans to reduce the sensor to about third its current size for human trials. They also hope to develop sensors that can diagnose a variety of gastrointestinal conditions other than bleeding.