The geniuses of the MIT have come up with ingestible sensors. The sensor is equipped with the genetically engineered bacteria. These ingestible sensors laden with the genetically engineered bacteria possess the caliber to diagnose the bleeding in the stomach as well as the other gastrointestinal problems.

It is a prototype device known as the IMBED. IMBED stands for the Ingestible Micro-Bio-Electronic Device. The IMBED is specifically designed to be small enough to facilitate its consumption by the human patients. It will assist the medical practitioners to diagnose a range of the gut-related disorders.

The IMBED features the genetically engineered bacterial cells. These cells are modified to sense the biomarkers of the gut-related diseases. The IMBED contains well where these cells are placed individually, and a semi-permeable membrane covers them. As soon as the target molecules start to diffuse around the semi-permeable membrane; they begin activating the bacteria. The activated bacteria, in turn, generates light. The photodetectors present beneath each well detects this light and gives rise to the electrical signals which are transmitted wirelessly to an external device.

MIT’s Timothy Lu says, “By combining engineered biological sensors together with low-power wireless electronics, we can detect biological signals in the body in near real-time, enabling new diagnostic capabilities for human health applications.”

In order to bring their visualization to reality, the team developed an IMBED version which detects the bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. In their first model, a probiotic strain of the Escherichia coli was used. It was genetically engineered to express a gene circuit. It is this genetic circuit that enables the bacteria to radiate light when they encounter the haem. The researchers then placed such genetically engineered cells on to the four wells on the sensor.

The sensor is cylindrical in shape and is about 3.8 cm in length. It requires about 13 µW of power. A 2.7 V battery is sufficient enough to charge the device for about one and a half months. Alternatively, a voltaic cell can also be used to charge the IMBED. The acidic fluids of the stomach sustain the voltaic cells.