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Step aside, smart devices - smart pills are here

Scientists have found a way to make sure the pills you take reach their designated destination without interference, Purdue University has announced yesterday.

One of the problems pharmacists and doctors are often faced with is the fact that the pills can sometimes be absorbed by the stomach or the small intestine before reaching their final destination – the large intestine.

Now, a new type of capsule holds onto its payload until it reaches where it needs to be, and scientists are calling it a “smart capsule”.

"Usually, when you take medication it is absorbed in the stomach and small intestine before making it to the large intestine," said Babak Ziaie, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University. "However, there are many medications that you would like to deliver specifically to the large intestine, and a smart capsule is an ideal targeted-delivery vehicle for this."

Scientists say this discovery could help fight the life-threatening bacterial infection called Clostridium difficile “in which the body loses natural microorganisms needed to fight infection.”

"It takes up to 12 hours to get to the large intestine, so we wanted to make sure the smart capsule can withstand conditions in the gastrointestinal tract," Ziaie said.

The prototype capsule is about the same size as a 000-size gelatin capsule and is designed to release the powdered medication just before reaching the ileocecal valve, where the small and large intestines meet.

The researchers have filed for a provisional U.S. patent through Purdue’s Office of Technology Commercialization of the Purdue Research Foundation.