RMIT’s Dr Jianzhen Ou will enhance a human gas capsule that better detects gut diseases after winning a Victoria Fellowship.
The ingestible capsule uses sensors to measure gases in the intestinal tract that help detect disease and disorders. What’s missing is the ability to measure metabolites (the substances left over from metabolism).
Gases and metabolites provide biological markers for inflammatory bowel diseases, colon cancer and different types of gut bacteria overgrowth symptoms.
Dr Ou, who is the capsule’s co-inventor, will use the six-month fellowship to add the capability of sensing intestinal metabolites.
“The capsule, which is the size of a regular vitamin pill, can be swallowed by adults to allow accurate measuring of the concentrations and types of intestinal gases and then transmitted to an external hand-held device or smart-phone that allows a real-time data display and analysis,” Ou said.
“By harnessing cutting-edge fundamental scientific outcomes with complementary expertise from world leading research groups, I will develop novel metabolite sensing technologies that can be integrated into the capsule.
“Combing gas and metabolite sensing capsule surveillance provides a convenience test for gastroenterologists to assess the state of health and apply preventative measures upon the observation of anomalies.”
The human gas and metabolite sensing capsule is very attractive for medical industries due to its strong potential to improve the healthcare and wellbeing of people globally. An advanced capsule could also lead to significant health cost savings to the Victorian and Australian economy and health benefits to individuals.
“The research won’t only improve the novel and cutting-edge capsule but will help improve diagnostic and patient outcomes,” Ou said.
“By being able to measure metabolites, the capsule will mean that patients suffering from stomach disorders won’t need to go thorough invasive and often painful procedures like colonoscopies.
“This study mission will also generate valuable Australian-owned intellectual property which can potentially be licensed to national and international companies for commercialisation, and help me pioneer the emerging field of indigestible capsules.
“It is an honour to win this award, and I am really grateful for the opportunity to not only help advance our technology, but improve outcomes and prospects for people suffering from intestinal issues.”
Dr Ou is one of 12 Victoria Fellowship winners in 2017. Each Fellow receives a travel grant of up to $18,000 to undertake a short-term overseas study mission to assist in developing a commercial idea; undertaking specialist training; or career development not available in Australia.
Since 2008, the Victoria Fellowships have allowed early career researchers to travel to Asia, USA, Europe and the UK to connect with world-leaders in their areas of research, participate in international conferences, and gain valuable skills to bring back to Victoria.
Story: James Giggacher