Researchers at MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory have devised a way to wirelessly power small electronic devices that can linger in the digestive tract indefinitely after being swallowed. Such devices could be used to sense conditions in the gastrointestinal tract, or carry small reservoirs of drugs to be delivered over an extended period.
Finding a safe and efficient power source is a critical step in the development of such ingestible electronic devices, says Giovanni Traverso, a research affiliate at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and a gastroenterologist and biomedical engineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“If we’re proposing to have systems reside in the body for a long time, power becomes crucial,” says Traverso, one of the senior authors of the study. “Having the ability to transmit power wirelessly opens up new possibilities as we start to approach this problem.”
The new strategy, described in the April 27 issue of the journal Scientific Reports, is based on the wireless transfer of power from an antenna outside the body to another one inside the digestive tract.