Dissolving Batteries To Power Swallowable Medical Devices Of The Future

KCBS_740 SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Someday soon, you may be able to swallow a non-toxic, battery-powered device for diagnosing and treating diseases.

When the job is done, the batteries simply dissolve.

About two decades ago, doctors began using ingestible battery-operated cameras, but there has always been the danger of exposure to a toxic battery operating those devices.

“A large device like an ingestible camera for example, has a 1-percent chance of being retained in the G.I. tract, and that might not sound like a lot, but now imagine that you’re taking a device, maybe not a camera, but maybe a drug delivery device every single day – that risk adds up,” Christopher Bettinger, an Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University said.

Bettinger and his colleagues have identified properties of naturally occurring materials already in the body that can replace the function of everyday batteries.

This development’s also important because there are a lot of emerging diseases that seem to rely on bacteria in our gut.

“Things like obesity, diabetes, even brain function has been related to the composition of bacteria in our gut,” Bettinger said.

So, if they can design therapies that can modulate that in a more productive way, then a wide range of diseases will become more treatable.

More from Susan Leigh Taylor
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