A recent PhysicsWorld article discussed a new device intended to treat gastrointestinal disorders. Historically, conditions like gastroparesis have been treated with the surgical implantation of gastric pacemakers that stimulate the outer muscle layer of the stomach. This costly and invasive procedure was replaced with ingestible robotic systems, but they have no way of controlling electrical microstimulation.
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To address this, a team at MIT collaborated with Novo Nordisk and KTH Royal Institute of Technology to develop an orally administered electrical stimulation device. The ingestible pill mimics a parasitic worm that attaches to the GI tract of its host. It anchors to the stomach wall via needles that act as probes to create timed electrical pulses, thereby improving the device’s controllability. The device remains attached for up to two hours after being swallowed.