Yahoo! News News Home - Yahoo! - Help

Welcome, guest Personalize News Home Page   -   Sign Out
Yahoo! News   Tue, May 20, 2003
Search    for     Advanced
News Front Page
Top Stories
   Weight Loss
   Sexual Health
Oddly Enough
News Photos
Most Popular
Full Coverage
News for Kids

News Resources
· Reuters
· AP
· HealthScoutNews
· Acurian
· ACS News Today
News Alerts
· wireless
· Food and Drug Administration
Search News


Health - Reuters
'Fantastic Voyage' Into Gut Nearer to Reality
1 hour, 9 minutes ago
Add Health - Reuters to My Yahoo!

By E. J. Mundell

ORLANDO (Reuters Health) - Once the stuff of science fiction, tiny, remote-controlled capsules could soon be used to diagnose and even treat illnesses anywhere in the human gut, according to researchers.


Such a wireless (news - web sites), video-equipped capsule -- about half the size of a grape -- has been swallowed and tested in the first human volunteer, they reported here Monday at the annual Digestive Disease Week conference.

Using a radio-guided control box, the researchers were able to "move the capsule, go backwards and look at something again," said Dr. Annette Fritscher-Ravens of the University of London.

"It's the future of wireless capsule therapy," she said.

Until recently, patients with unexplained gastrointestinal illness had only a few options when it came to diagnosis -- CT scans or MRI, endoscopy, or surgical interventions. Each has its limitations, and researchers have long sought a method of clearly viewing the inside of the entire length of the gastrointestinal tract without having to resort to surgery.

Within the last decade, researchers developed tiny, video-equipped capsules that are swallowed and then passed through the body via the normal movement of the gut.

But relying on the gut to propel the capsule forward has had its problems.

"Sometimes it runs quickly or runs very little," Fritscher-Ravens said, which can keep the capsule sitting for hours in an area of little interest, while speeding it past areas doctors want to linger on.

What was needed was a method of controlling the capsule from the outside.

Fritscher-Ravens and her colleagues say they have patented just such a method. Using technology very similar to that found in TV remotes or electronic car-keys, they attached tiny electrodes to the front and rear portions of the video capsule, along with a tiny antenna. Using a drive/reverse switch, they have been able to steer and propel the capsule through the gut, lingering wherever a lesion or other suspicious formation occurs.

After first testing the device in pigs, "we were able, in man, to steer the capsule backwards and forwards and stop it," Fritscher-Ravens told reporters at the meeting.

Safety was always a concern, but the device only requires 5 milli-amps of power. "This is very, very little power -- much less power than would interfere with a heart rate or anything," the researcher said.

The capsule, which is meant to be disposable, safely passes through the gut and is flushed away with a regular bowel movement.

Speaking with Reuters Health, Fritscher-Ravens and co-researcher Dr. C. Paul Swain (who was the first human test subject) said they expect the device to go through further trials and then be submitted for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) within the next two to three years.

They have high hopes for the capsule. Someday, the device might be made to travel through the gut and grab tiny pieces of tissue for biopsy. It might even be used to treat disease, possibly eliminating the need for surgery, according to the researchers.

"Right now, with this capsule we can see (a lesion), but we can't treat it," Fritscher-Ravens said. However, she envisages a future where "you can swallow two capsules that come together, and then you can just fire a laser at the lesion."

In Yahoo! Health
photo SARS:
What You Need To Know

More from Yahoo! Health:
• How it spreads
• Prevention
• The cause


Mail to Friend  Email Story
Message Boards   Post/Read Msgs
Printer Version   Print Story
Ratings: Would you recommend this story?
Not at all 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 Highly

Next Story: Office Rectal Exam for Colorectal Cancer Doubted (Reuters)

More Health Stories
· Canada Announces Mad Cow Case in Alberta   (AP)
· Chocolate May Extend Your Life  (HealthSCOUT)
· Next Era of Cancer Therapy Aims to Separate Cancer From Blood Supply  (Acurian)
· A More Effective Treatment For Young Myeloma Patients  (American Cancer Society)
· Taiwan SARS crisis getting worse, China says under control  (AFP)

· Know the basics of TORNADO SAFETY and have a PLAN TO SURVIVE!
· Get a fresh start with ClearCredit
· Get 30 commission-free trades at Ameritrade!
· Check out Toyota's full line-up of 18 quality cars, trucks and SUVs at
· Save money
· Chase® Platinum Visa: 0% Intro APR, No Annual Fee. Click to Apply!
· Planning to Sell or Buy a Home this Summer?
· Home Equity Rates as Low as 4.0% -
· Rollover your 401K
· Save up to 70% on Life Insurance. Get Instant Quotes!

• Daily Emails
• Free News Alerts

Education for Health Professionals
• Online Graduate Degrees in Health
• Online Bachelor Degrees in Health
from Yahoo! Education

Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
Copyright © 2003 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
Questions or Comments
Privacy Policy -Terms of Service - Copyright Policy - Ad Feedback