New pill works like an x-ray

Tuesday 11th August 2015
A new pill uses sensors to work like an x-ray and could help boost screening. Image Credit: liquid library
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A new pill has been developed that could improve the amount of people that get screened for colon cancer.

Although it is recommended that anyone over the age of 50 should get a colonoscopy to check for cancer, take-up can be low because of the unpleasant nature of the procedure and the embarrassment it could cause.

However, a new product developed by medical engineer Dr Yoav Kimchy could make checking for cancer in this area much easier.

Along with Check Cap, Dr Kimchy has designed a pill that includes a small sensor that replicates an x-ray. All the patient has to do is swallow a solution and then the pill and, when it gets to the colon, it generates a signal to determine how far it is from the colon wall. 

This signal is sent in every direction, allowing the pill to create a visual image of the inside of the colon. This information is then delivered to a wireless patch worn by the patient and enables the movement of the pill to be tracked.

The pill doesn't need to be retrieved afterwards and the patient can return the patch to their doctor. After around ten minutes, they will have a full 3D rendering of the patient’s colon.

According to Check Cap, the health risk of such a procedure is comparable to two airport body scans or a single chest X-ray. 

With the full 3D image, the doctor can quickly check to see if there are any irregularities, as they would with a CT scan, instead of having to watch camera footage as a camera slowly moves around.

Speaking to Quartz, Dr Kimchy said it's much easier for doctors to use the map than previous methods.

After his grandmother died of colon cancer in her 40s, Dr Kimchy still found it difficult to encourage his dad to go for screening because of the uncomfortable and embarrassing nature of the procedure. He said it became "obvious" that another solution was needed, and the most difficult part of the pill is swallowing it.

Written by Megan Smith

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