A tiny robotic pill that will deliver therapies to hard-to-reach places inside the body is being developed by a team of university researchers in the UK.
The team from Imperial College London (London, UK) is creating the pill that -- after being swallowed by a patient -- has the potential to deliver drugs to the small intestine. The pill could also be used by doctors to inject adrenaline locally to help treat ulcers in the small intestine to reduce inflammation and pain.
The robotic pill will consist of a miniature video camera, positioned at the tip, which will relay real-time video images. It will travel through the body via the contraction and relaxation of muscles in the intestine - a process called peristalsis.
The pill will be able to be stopped remotely when it reaches a tumor or ulcer by lowering a miniature "anchor", which will be deployed from its casing. A tiny needle can then be positioned and injected near the tumor or ulcer to deliver drugs which are stored inside the casing.
Dr. Tim Constandinou, from the department of electrical and electronic engineering at Imperial College London, said that while the researchers were still a long way off from delivering the technology to the hospital bedside, they hoped it could one day improve outcomes for patients undergoing treatment.
The team predicts that they will have a working prototype ready within six months. It will then be tested over a 2-year period in animal models to gauge its effectiveness, which could lead to clinical trials.
Related news items on medical imaging that you might also find of interest:
1. Infrared cameras enhance diagnostic medical imaging
Many medical diagnostic tools take advantage of the optical or therapeutic window that defines the range of wavelengths where light has its maximum depth of penetration in tissue.
2. Researchers image a hand with protons
Researchers developing a new medical imaging technology that uses protons instead of x-rays presented the first proton radiographic image of a hand last month at a medical imaging conference in Southern California.
3. Imaging system gets under the skin
Researchers from Medical University Vienna (MUW; Vienna, Austria) and the Ludwig-Maximilians University (Munich, Germany) have used optical coherence tomography (OCT) to noninvasively image the network of blood vessels beneath the outer layer of skin.
-- Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design