Smart Pill May Improve Treatment of Intestinal Disorders

Intestinal gases colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Australian researchers have developed a smart pill that can measure intestinal gases within the body.

The study, performed by RMIT University, used the pills to examine whether low and high fiber diets have an impact on intestinal gases. The pills are able to collect data from inside the gut and send it directly to a cellphone.

There is a link to colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) from intestinal gases. However, since there is no reliable tool available to detect the gases inside the gut, their role is not fully understood.

The trial for these smart pills used 2 groups of pigs, with similar digestive systems to humans, fed a low and high fiber diet.

The results of the study showed that high fiber diets produced more methane gas within the large intestine than the low fiber diet. This could mean that painful gut gas retention could be prevented by reducing the amount of high fiber foods consumed.

Low fiber diets produced 4 times more hydrogen gas with the small intestine than the high fiber diet. For those suffering from IBS, a high fiber diet could be better for these patients.

The ratio of carbon dioxide and methane gases in the large intestine stayed the same on both diets. This suggests that for patients with IBS associated with excess methane concentration, a high or low fiber diet may not be helpful.

With the help of the smart pills, doctors would be able to differentiate between gut disorders in their patients.

"The smart pills allow us to identify precisely where the gases are produced and help us understand the microbial activity in these areas -- it's the first step in demolishing the myths of food effects on our body and replacing those myths with hard facts,” said lead investigator and Professor at RMIT, Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh. "We hope this technology will in future enable researchers to design personalized diets or drugs that can efficiently target problem areas in the gut, to help the millions of people worldwide that are affected by digestive disorders and diseases.”