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Ingestible Electronic Sensor (IES) – A New Dimension of Digital Healthcare Industry

Introduction to Ingestible Sensors

The new wave of future technology can be found in ingestible sensors. What are these on-the-go sensors? Think of them as fitness trackers for your stomach! An ingestible sensor is a device that integrates a wireless sensor system into a non-invasive capsule that performs various functions, such as measuring the body's pH, pressure, and core temperature.

Digestive processes are difficult to investigate. Almost all known methods involve a lengthy endoscopy, which is unpleasant for the patient and only allows for a relatively brief observation in one specific area of the stomach. As a result, ingestible sensors will benefit both patients and doctors.

Ingestible Sensors in Healthcare

In the healthcare sector, swallowable or ingestible sensors are used in capsules for endoscopy, patient monitoring and control, and drug delivery applications. The most common types of receptive sensors are those used for imaging, detecting various kinds of gases, monitoring drug compliance and absorption, and electrochemical signal acquisition. Digestible sensors can also measure potentials and monitor markers that target by-products of chemical or biochemical activity such as gases. Some digestible sensors and other imaging capsules work in a typical intestinal environment (food or fluid) to understand normal intestinal function. Specific food substrates can stimulate them to show the effects of the environment on function.

If you have ever had digestive problems, these sensors could help diagnose an issue before it gets out of hand. These tiny devices are made to be ingested, not injected, meaning that they will not cause an adverse reaction.

In 1957, the first ingestible electronic device appeared, which employed radio frequency to send temperature and pressure information. The ingestible sensors field remained stagnant until technology caught up with an invention in the 1990s. In November 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the first digital pill, an aripiprazole (Abilify) developed by Otsuka Pharmaceutical. The sensor in this digital pill, developed by Proteus Digital Health, is activated by stomach acid. Each pill comprises a one-square-millimetre sensor coated in copper and magnesium, two easily digested metals. Because these metals can be found in multivitamin supplements and naturally in our foods, they are not harmful to take. Electrolytes in the body activate the sensor when it is swallowed. The pill then sends a signal to a small battery-powered patch worn by the user, which transfers the data to a caregiver's or family member's smartphone through Bluetooth.

Patients who forget or refuse to take their prescribed drugs are among the difficulties that Ingestible sensor systems like Proteus are designed to address. It's also possible that patients are incorrectly taking their drugs. Patients may, for example, be mixing medications or taking the wrong dose, both of which can be extremely dangerous and harmful to the body. This is an increasing concern, as in today’s world, people are more reliant on more than one prescription on a regular basis. Ingestible sensors are further trying to solve the problem of chronic disease management by removing the necessity for endless physical examinations.

Researchers presented a novel ingestible micro-bio-electronic device (IMBED) that can be used to monitor gut health in a May 2018 article published in the journal Science. The team created a "heme-sensitive probiotic biosensor" to detect gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding as a proof of concept. While previous generations of ingestible sensors primarily measured pH, temperature, pressure, and medication adherence, this is the first time the technology has been pushed towards specific diagnostics. Bacteria can be considered nano-bio sensors because they can sense a wide range of external physical and chemical parameters via specific genetic pathways. The heme-sensing genetic components of Lactococcus lactis and Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteria were used in this intelligent pill to sense blood in the extracellular environment and were modified to produce a bioluminescent output signal (Photorhabdus luminescens luxCDABE). The system was then introduced into a bacterial strain that is friendly to the gut. A stomach acid-powered battery powers the pill device. This prototype was tested on mice and pigs with GI bleeding. The ingested device was able to detect heme, the iron-holding molecule in haemoglobin, as its nano-bioluminescent signal was processed and transmitted to an Android app. The pills must be resized because their dimensions (roughly 1.5 inches) inhibit human trials.

Olympus Corporation

Endocapsule 10 is a small-intestine endoscope system from Olympus Corporation, produces extremely high-quality images for quick, efficient, and precise examinations. The 3D Track function allows tracking the capsule as it travels through the small intestine. The detailed signals from the capsule are recognised by a high-precision antenna, which enables the system to display the capsule track in 3D. The track progress bar is useful for determining the location of the capsule in the small intestine. It also displays on the 3D tracking screen where each thumbnail image was captured to determine the abnormalities' locations. The 3D Track function is simple to use, indicating capsule location to assist you in deciding what approach should be taken for subsequent procedures.

CapsoVision, Inc.

A Silicon Valley medical device innovator, announced a distribution partnership with PENTAX Medical to sell CapsoCam Plus, the only capsule endoscope with four cameras and 360° panoramic lateral imaging of the small bowel. PENTAX Medical will also provide CapsoCloudTM, the only cloud-based capsule endoscopy EMR system in the market.

Atmo Biosciences

Developed the Atmo Gas Capsule to accurately profile the gases within the gut, resulting in improved diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. When swallowed, the gas-sensing capsule can electronically report important data about the human gastrointestinal system by detecting gases in real-time from known locations within the gut and using these biomarkers for diagnosis, resulting in targeted treatment, earlier symptom relief, and lower healthcare costs. The ingestible capsule has the potential to be a diagnostic tool for a wide range of gastrointestinal disorders, from IBS and IBD to carbohydrate malabsorption and intolerance. Gas sensors, a temperature sensor, a microcontroller, a radio-frequency transmitter, and button-sized silver-oxide batteries are housed within the Atmo Gas Capsule's 2cm-long polymer shell. The gas sensors are enclosed in a special membrane that allows gas to pass through while keeping stomach acid and digestive juices out. The technology works by adjusting the heating elements of sensors to measure different gases, and the data is then transmitted to a mobile phone. The capsule's progress through the GI tract is tracked using oxygen concentrations. The data is transmitted in real time to a small receiver that can be carried in a pocket. The receiver then sends the data via Bluetooth to a cell phone to upload the data to the internet for easy monitoring by users and doctors.

Ingestible Electronic Sensor Market

The introduction of new technology is propelling the ingestible sensor market across all global segments. North America is expected to dominate the ingestible sensor market, owing to the adoption of extensive medical applications and the availability of sophisticated infrastructure. In terms of technological advancements and increasing adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare, the United States is the most prominent country in the region. It enables the monitoring, controlling, and tracking of daily routines, including medicine intake, via the internet.

The ingestible sensor market was valued at $491 million in 2016, and it is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of up to 19 percent through 2024. The market for ingestible sensors is expected to register a CAGR of 18.7% over the forecast period (2021 - 2026). It is a game-changing technology in disease diagnostics, monitoring, and management. The rise in chronic and gastrointestinal diseases is also cited as a major factor driving the region's expansion.

The market for ingestible sensors is competitive, with a few major players, which include ingestible sensor companies such as CapsoVision, Inc., HQ, Inc., IntroMedic Co. Ltd, JINSHAN Science & Technology, Medtronic PLC (Given Imaging, Inc.), Olympus Corporation, Proteus Digital Health, Inc. and MC10. Following wearable sensors, ingestible sensors are the next step in sensor technology.

Patent Data Analysis- Ingestible Sensors

The graph below illustrates the evolution of applications related to ingestible sensors over the last 10 years. The ingestible sensors applications saw linear growth in the last decade, and the technology seems to be coming at a stable growth in the coming years. Ingestible sensors are utilized in capsule endoscopy, patient monitoring, and controlled drug delivery applications in the medical field, so, this technology is seeing a steady growth in patent filings over the globe.

The graph below illustrates the market coverage area and top 10 markets of the alive patent families for the ingestible sensor technology. US leads with 14,378 patent families, followed by the China with 12,297 patent families and Europe with 10,160 patent families. These top three regions will be center for the boom of ingestible products. Thus, companies and inventors are investing heavily either to protect their invention or to monetize their patents in the near future.

Future Potential

Ingestible sensors are still a novel idea, and swallowing a sensor containing its electronic components remain a psychological challenge. Pharmaceutical companies and regulatory authorities must adhere to strict safety guidelines. The field must also overcome the enormous barrier of massive expenditures associated with product development, as these technologies necessitate the invention of new integrated technologies, a problem that could slow development. Nonetheless, the information obtained through this ingestible technology has the potential to shed light on newly discovered gut functionalities. We currently lack a thorough understanding of how gastric juices, electrolytes, hormones, and other gut metabolites work together to maintain a healthy gut. As a result, we can confidently predict that these highly integrated ingestible sensors will be the future of our gut health.


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