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A gut health check could soon be as easy as swallowing a pill

Photo: RMIT-developed device helps gut disorders
A capsule developed by RMIT to help diagnose people suffering from gut disorders in real time, is being trialled.

An RMIT-developed electronic capsule could revolutionise how gut disorders including irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis, are diagnosed.

The world-first patented technology could be available within four years with clinical trials being pursued by Melbourne start-up Atmo Biosciences.

When swallowed, the vitamin-sized capsule moves through the gastrointestinal system and sends information via a handheld device and mobile app to doctors.

That information will enable them to target treatment, provide earlier relief of symptoms and reduced healthcare costs.
Researchers say the device also has potential to identify previously undiagnosed conditions.

"This will provide relief to the millions of patients who suffer daily without targeted therapy to relieve their symptoms," a joint statement says.

Under the new agreement, RMIT will receive royalties from the sale of products by Atmo Biosciences.

WHAT IT IS:

- The electronic capsule measures gases in the gut to help improve diagnosis of common and debilitating gut conditions.

WHAT IT DOES:

- Measures hydrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and methane gases as capsule travels through gastrointestinal tract

- Data sent every five minutes for 72 hours

- Could replace more invasive methods of diagnosis, like a colonoscopy, which are often uncomfortable and time consuming for patients

THE NUMBERS:

- One-in-five people worldwide suffer from a gastrointestinal disorder in their lifetime

- Almost a third of gastrointestinal disorders remain unresolved because of difficulty in diagnosis

- The first phase of human trials found the capsule to be over 3000 times more accurate than breath tests in detecting gas levels

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