Feeds

FDA clears edible medical sensor for human consumption

System in a pill communicates via skin patch

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially cleared edible computers to be used in medical applications for monitoring patient health.

After four years of discussions, Proteus Digital has received approval for its Ingestion Event Marker, a silicon sensor about 1mm square that is encased in a pill and is meant to be swallowed. Once stomach acid reaches the sensor it acts as an electrolyte, generating 1-2 volts of power between the copper salt cathode and a magnesium anode.

While it carries no aerial itself, the chip emits a tone that can be picked up on a patch worn on the outside of the body. The patch then relays the sensor's data (along with heart rate and body movement of the patent) to a mobile phone with the right software application installed.

The sensor doesn't last long for sustained operation and is passed through the gut "like high-fiber food," according to the manufacturer. "We are very much looking forward to bringing the benefits of our ingestible sensor to the American public in the form of innovative product offerings," said Dr. George M. Savage, co-founder and chief medical officer at Proteus Digital in a statement.

Before you start getting images of a Fantastic Voyage scenario, the current technology that has been approved is very basic. The sensor is designed to ensure that medication is taken correctly and on time by providing a log of ingestion, and we're still years away from the medical robots that can maneuver through the body and perform repairs, as envisioned by some so-called technology gurus.

Nevertheless, the FDA approval is an important step in allowing the use of wetware, or implantable computers, to improve human health. The EU has already approved the Proteus Digital designs and certified them as safe for human use. With the FDA decision, the company now has access to the most expensive healthcare market in the world.

"The FDA validation represents a major milestone in digital medicine. Directly digitizing pills, for the first time, in conjunction with our wireless infrastructure, may prove to be the new standard for influencing medication adherence and significantly aid chronic disease management," said Dr. Eric Topol, professor of genomics at The Scripps Research Institute. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
Vote now for LOHAN's stirring mission patch motto
Does the shed actually know no bounds, or what?
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket
Space Launch System would need another $400m and a lot of time
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.