Massachusetts Institute of Technology wants to locate medication and track tumours inside the human body, have developed a GPS system to do just that. Introducing ReMix, an ingestibly sensor that captures high resolution images and can even deliver medication to precise locations inside the body. These sensors can track with centimetre-level accuracy according to researchers at SIGCOMM 2018 in Budapest last weekend.
The sensor is said to be the size of a grain of rice and needs no battery, which both reduces the size of the device while increasing it's life span. The microchip tracker can also be injected.
“Back-scatter requires zero transmission power, making it a compelling technology for in-body communication and localisation. But the fact that signals no longer travel along straight lines inside the human body destroys the geometric principles underlying many localisation algorithms.”
Dina Katabi, MIT Computer Scientist
The level of accuracy could lead to improved success rates of proton therapy, a type of cancer treatment. Tests pinpointed the tumour's marker to within 1.4cm of its target, so it's easy to see why there's still a lot more to come from this technology.
However, some have warned that the therapy relies on a premise that tumours stay where they are during the radiation process. If the tumour moves, it will escape the radiation treatment while healthy areas now become exposed. This new tracking system could allow doctors real time tracking, solving this issue. Katabi stated the margin of error could be reduced to a couple of millimetres, far in advance of the centimetres that come with the current method of treatment.
The accuracy can then be improved again by advancements in Remix' design and algorithms as well as the technological we've spoken of previously here at APAC.
“The ability to continuously sense inside the human body has largely been a distant dream. ReMix makes a leap in this direction by showing that the wireless component of implantable devices may no longer be the bottleneck.”
Romit Roy Choudhury, Electrical Engineer Professor, University of Illinois