LIFE Published December20, 2015 By Milafel Hope Dacanay

Swallowable Camera Enhanced to Detect Gut and Throat Cancers

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FDA Approves Ingestible Camera Pill
(Photo : Getty Images | Getty Images News)

Scottish researchers have significantly improved the video pill to make it more capable of detecting cancers of the esophagus, throat, and digestive tract.

Endoscopy still remains as one of the most effective and efficient ways of screening the digestive tract and throat. It involves inserting a thin flexible tube into the throat and down the tract. It is equipped with a camera to illuminate the path and the area in question. It also has a camera that delivers live feed into a monitor and allows the doctor to see the section.

However, more doctors are already using the video pill, which functions like an endoscope, only that it's easier to employ because it's swallowable. The camera also takes a series of images that can then be studied by the doctor while the pill is expelled in the body naturally.

While the method is already considered as innovative and advanced, it still has its limits including not having enough brightness for doctors to provide a more conclusive result.

This may change now that a team from Glasgow University has made a video pill that can work with "fluorescence phantoms." These refer to mixtures that include hemoglobins and believed to be responsible for supporting the development and proliferation of cancer. These supplies react to fluorescence imaging, which is now being used by the pill. Further, the illumination can remain for around 14 hours, enough time for the doctor to analyze the images.

What makes this technology more significant is the fact that fluorescence imaging is normally expensive and huge that it is used only in labs. To achieve a pill form, the team worked used an imaging technique that creates single pixels for the semiconductor.

The pill may not be available anytime soon in clinics, but the researchers hope that it can be used to improve ultrasound.

Pills, in general, however have limitations including not being able to remove polyps in the colon, which can be achieved by colonoscopy.

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