Ingestible Medical Devices Can Be Broken Down With Light

A variety of medical devices can be inserted into the gastrointestinal tract to treat, diagnose, or monitor GI disorders. Many of these have to be removed by endoscopic surgery once their job is done. However, MIT engineers have now come up with a way to trigger such devices to break down inside the body when they are exposed to light from an ingestible LED.

The new approach is based on a light-sensitive hydrogel that the researchers designed. Incorporating this material into medical devices could avoid many endoscopic procedures and would give doctors a faster and easier way to remove devices when they are no longer needed or are not functioning properly, the researchers say.

“We are developing a set of systems that can reside in the gastrointestinal tract, and as part of that, we’re looking to develop different ways in which we can trigger the disassembly of devices in the GI tract without the requirement for a major procedure,” says Giovanni Traverso, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, a gastroenterologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the senior author of the study.

Read more