December 11, 2023

To find out what’s going on in someone’s digestive tract, doctors usually analyze a stool sample taken from the person. However, a new swallowable capsule is said to provide a more accurate picture of a person’s gut health.

The device, called CapScan, was developed by scientists at the University of California, Davis, Stanford University and San Francisco startup Envivo Bio Inc.According to the researchers, the bacteria, proteins and other substances found in the stool samples were indicators of activity in the lower colon primarily…that is no Where most of the action is.

“Measuring gut metabolites in feces is like studying elephants by examining their tails,” said Dari Shalon of Envivo Bio, the inventor of the capsules. “Most metabolites are produced, transformed and utilized higher up in the gut without even passing into the feces.”

This is where CapScan comes in.

The device consists of a polymer shell that contains a deflated fluid-collecting sac. When the capsule is ingested and reaches the small intestine, the pH-sensitive coating on the device dissolves, revealing an integrated one-way valve. The valve allows digestive fluids to be drawn into the capsule’s bladder, expanding it in the process.

Once the bladder is full, the valve prevents it from collecting any other fluid down the digestive tract. When the disposable capsule is then passed with the stool, it is removed and its contents analyzed.Importantly, by adjusting the pH sensitivity of the coating to dissolve at different acidity levels, it is possible to determine Where Fluid collects in the small intestine.

Prototype CapScan Capsule
Prototype CapScan Capsule

Envivo Bio

In laboratory tests on 15 healthy volunteers, CapScan analysis revealed significant differences in bacteria, viruses, host proteins and food metabolites between small intestine and stool samples. More than 2,000 of the latter have been identified, and their concentrations were found to vary with each individual’s diet.

“This capsule and report are the first of its kind,” said Professor Oliver Fiehn of UC Davis. “All other research on the human gut microbiota has focused on feces as a surrogate for colonic metabolism. However, of course, the fact is that 90% of human digestion occurs in the upper gut, not the colon.”

The research is described in two papers published in the journal nature and natural metabolism.

source: UC Davis