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Smart pills could treat diseases


Researchers in America have developed a prototype device that could one day travel around the human body to detect and treat diseases.

The chip pioneered by a team from Caltech can be ‘precisely identified within the body’ and could form the basis of ‘smart pills’ that can quickly tackle health issues.

“The dream is that we will have microscale devices that are roaming our bodies and either diagnosing problems or fixing things,” explained Professor Azita Emami. “Before now, one of the challenges was that it was hard to tell where they are in the body.”

The prototype silicon-chip, called ATOMS: addressable transmitters operated as magnetic spins, can provide location, though, as it taps into the ‘principles of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)’. The scientists believe the devices, which have been successfully tested on mice, could eventually function as ‘robotic wardens of our bodies’ monitoring health indicators and releasing drugs when necessary.

“You could have dozens of microscale devices traveling around the body taking measurements or intervening in disease. These devices can all be identical, but the ATOMS devices would allow you to know where they all are and talk to all of them at once,” added Mikhail Shapiro, Professor of Chemical Engineering.

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