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New pill tracks gases through your gut

In first tests in humans, an ingestible electronic monitors gas molecules in the digestive system

11:00am, January 8, 2018

GUT CHECK  A plastic capsule containing instruments to sense various gut gases (illustrated) could help diagnose or monitor treatments for gastrointestinal problems. 

Ingestible electronics are giving their first full tours of the gas in people’s guts.

Newly constructed capsules, described online January 8 in Nature Electronics, sense various gases while traveling through a person’s digestive tract, revealing how the gut’s chemical composition reacts to factors like diet.

What exactly each person’s gut gas could reveal about his or her health “is still to be determined,” says William Bentley, a bioengineer at the University of Maryland in College Park. But using capsules to gather gas fingerprints of many people with different diets or disorders could help researchers better characterize gut problems and improve disease diagnoses as well as boost monitoring of the effects of dietary or medication changes.

Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh, an engineer at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, and his

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