Tuning the musical fruit

Perhaps we can file this under “more than we wanted to know”:

Scientists often hope to break ground with their research. But a group of Australian researchers would likely be happy with breaking wind.

The team developed an ingestible electronic capsule to monitor gas levels in the human gut. When it’s paired with a pocket-sized receiver and a mobile phone app, the pill reports tail-wind conditions in real time as it passes from the stomach to the colon. The researchers, led by Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh of RMIT University and Peter Gibson of Monash University, reported their invention in Nature Electronics.

And we want this why, exactly?

The authors are optimistic that the capsule’s gas readings can help clear the air over the inner workings of our intricate innards and the multitudes of microbes they contain. Such fume data could clarify the conditions of each section of the gut, what microbes are up to, and which foods may cause problems in the system. Until now, collecting such data has been a challenge. Methods to bottle it involved cumbersome and invasive tubing and inconvenient whole-body calorimetry. Popping the electronic pill is a breeze in comparison. And early human trials have already hinted that the pill can provide new information about intestinal wind patterns and gaseous turbulence from different foods.

I’m convinced. Remind me to buy these guys a beer, and maybe some broccoli.

DOI: 10.1038/s41928-017-0004-x.


  1. McGehee »

    5 December 2018 · 9:52 am

    I already know my gut biota are revolting, but I can see how it might be useful to know over what.

    Minimum wage? Immigration? Gastrointestinal warming? It could be anything.

  2. fillyjonk »

    5 December 2018 · 10:25 am

    Last diet I went on, mine sent the message: send more sugar our way or we stop making the ‘happy neurotransmitters’*

    I figured it was best to listen to them.

    (*yes, gut biome has been implicated in dopamine and, I think, serotonin levels)

  3. hollyh »

    6 December 2018 · 9:09 am

    These scientists will be on the Ig Nobel prize-winners’ stage next year. I mean that in a good way.

RSS feed for comments on this post