A capsule engineered to detonate like a torpedo could deliver drugs to treat diseases in the large intestine more effectively, according to researchers. Ben Gruber reports.
STORY: This is an experiment designed to mimic the complex environment of the human intestinal tract. A capsule loaded with electronics and drugs developed at Purdue University is making its way through the digestive system. Its creators say it works using the same principles used to trigger a torpedo. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BABAK ZIAIE, PROFESSOR OF ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING, PURDUE UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "There is a magnetic switch and so when it gets close to the magnetic marker that can be worn outside, basically, or can be implanted close to where you want to release it. When it gets there it will trigger the magnetic switch and it will discharge the capacitor and you have a fuse that basically blows up." That triggers the capsule to separate and release the drugs it contains. More importantly, the medication is released after the capsule makes its eight hour journey through the harsh acidity of the stomach and 20 feet of small intestine, ensuring its drug payload reaches the colon intact. This targeted drug delivery system could potentially improve treatment for a variety of gastrointestinal disorders including bacterial infections, Crohn's disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which affects up to 20 percent of people globally.