Possibility of changing modern medicine; Bluetooth controlled pill technology introduced

ANNA FITZHUGH, Business Manager

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Many people know of the Beats Wireless Pill, a bluetooth speaker. The wireless pill researchers recently developed may not play music at intense decibels;  instead, the ingestible capsule is used to sense environmental changes and deliver drugs accordingly.

According to ScienceDaily, the wireless pill is designed to administer drugs over a long period of time as well as sensing infections, allergic reactions and releasing a drug in response. Treatment of diseases such as HIV and Malaria require strict dosing regimens, the pill would allow the process to be completed more consistently. Chemotherapy, immunosuppressants, antibiotics, and antihistamines could also be administered using the device.

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Draper, Brigham, and Women’s Hospital have been testing the device to monitor the temperature of pigs, and are hopeful that within two years, the technology can be applied to humans.  On investing in the device, junior Matthew Weir claims, “I’m uneasy to invest until it [the pill] is confirmed to be effective and trustworthy.”

Junior Brynn Schaedel believes, “it[the pill] would be more convenient to just check my phone, instead of having to wear an insulin pump and take insulin through that.” Junior Cole Ettenhofer already has an insulin pump that functions similar to the wireless pill, and adds “the pump has auto mode which controls my blood sugar for me over time by communicating with a continuous glucose monitor attached to me.”

The smartphone controlled capsule takes a “Y” shape after being swallowed, allowing the device to lodge to the stomach and for over a month before it breaks into smaller pieces and passes through the digestive tract. Withstanding a significant amount of time in the stomach requires materials that will withstand destructive stomach acid. 3D printing allows the device to be constructed from alternating stiff and flexible polymers, as well as completely customizable.

Many improvements are now being researched such as a new power source and more secure monitoring system. As far as availability to the public, Weir believes “At first, only those who really need the pill should have access to it. But, after studying eventually give the pill out in greater quantities.”

Currently powered with an oxide battery, researches are aiming to power the pill with either an external antenna or stomach acid. While the device is meant to communicate with solely the doctor and patient smartphones, security breaches are possible.

Earlier research in 2015 by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine developed a wireless optofluidic neural probe. The probe is implanted in the brain and controlled by a remote to deliver drugs and activate targeted populations of brain cells. Activation of brain cells could one day be used to treat pain, depression, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. The neural probe was tested in mice, and activated certain population of cells with flashes of light; releasing electrical pulses to produce dopamine.