NPR

Gut Check: Gas-Sniffing Capsule Charts The Digestive Tract

The electronic pill looks like the biggest multivitamin a human could possibly swallow. Tests have show that the experimental device can measure gases tied to microbes and digestion.
These large capsules, which can be swallowed, measure three different gases as they traverse the gastrointestinal tract. Source: Courtesy of Peter T. Clarke/RMIT University

To study the human gut and the microbes that live within it, scientists have a couple of options. They can grab a small piece of tissue from the gastrointestinal tract or collect a sample of fecal matter.

Neither way is ideal, says Jack Gilbert, a microbiologist and director of the Microbiome Center at the University of Chicago. "By studying [the sample], you're changing it, just by observing it, because you have to cut it out and analyze it," he says.

But a third way may become available to both scientists and clinicians. It's an ingestible electronic

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