The trials were conducted on seven healthy individuals on low- and high-fibre diets. Results showed that the capsule accurately shows the onset of food fermentation, highlighting their potential to clinically monitor digestion and normal gut health.
The trials also demonstrated that the capsule could offer a much more effective way of measuring microbiome activities in the stomach, a critical way of determining gut health.
“Previously, we have had to rely on faecal samples or surgery to sample and analyse microbes in the gut,” Kalantar-zadeh said.
“But this meant measuring them when they are not a true reflection of the gut microbiota at that time. Our capsule will offer a non-invasive method to measure microbiome activity.”
This could represent a gastric protection system against foreign bodies. Such an immune mechanism has never been reported before.
Now that the capsule has successfully passed human trials, the research team is seeking to commercialise the technology.
Co-inventor Dr Kyle Berean said: “The trials show that the capsules are perfectly safe, with no retention.
“Our ingestible sensors offer a potential diagnostic tool for many disorders of the gut from food nutrient malabsorption to colon cancer. It is good news that a less invasive procedure will now be an option for so many people in the future.
“We have partnered with Planet Innovation to establish a company called Atmo Biosciences and bring the product to market.
“This will lead to Phase II human trials, and help raise the funds needed place this safe and revolutionary gut monitoring and diagnostic device into the hands of patients and medical professionals.”
The trials were conducted with colleagues from Monash University.
The findings are published in the inaugural volume of Nature Electronics: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41928-017-0004-x