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Electronic Smartpill Pill Measures pH Levels in Digestive Tract

  • Date: 2009/06/03 Digestive Disease Week
  • Synopsis : An electronic diagnostic tool called the SmartPill is swallowed by patients in order to take measurements as it travels through the gastrointestinal tract.

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An electronic diagnostic tool called the SmartPill is swallowed by patients in order to take measurements as it travels through the gastrointestinal tract.

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Study Uses SmartPill Capsule in Ulcerative Colitis Patients, Finding Acidic Conditions in Their Colons.

An electronic diagnostic tool called the SmartPill is swallowed by patients in order to take measurements as it travels through the gastrointestinal tract. A new study by physician-scientists at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center used the device in patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis (UC), determining that they have significantly more acidic pH in their colons, compared with the average person "a finding that may impact treatment strategy.

The study was presented today at the Digestive Disease Week (DDW) meeting in Chicago, Ill.

"By using the SmartPill to measure the pH throughout the digestive tract, we were able to see how the pH levels can vary in patients with ulcerative colitis. This may help us understand why some drug treatments are more effective than others," says Dr. Brian Bosworth, lead investigator, assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, and a Crohn's and colitis specialist at the Jill Roberts Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Mesalamines are the mainstay drug therapy for the induction and maintenance of remission in patients with mild to moderate UC. Their efficacy is dependent on how well the drug is delivered to the active site of the disease. Several mesalamines have a delivery system that is dependent upon a specific pH in order to release. However, since the pH levels in the GI tract can vary, the researchers say, this could impact the proper release and efficacy of the medication.

In the study, five patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis (UC) and five healthy control patients swallowed the SmartPill. While all study participants reached a pH of 7, the UC patients reached this level more slowly than those without UC. Furthermore, the amount of time the colon maintained a pH greater than 6 or greater than 7 was less in the UC patients. The majority of mesalamines dissolve at a pH greater than or equal to 7, however, there is a more recently approved medication that initiates release of mesalamine at pH greater than or equal to 6.

Administered in the physician's office, the SmartPill allows that patient to go about their normal routine during the course of the test. As the SmartPill Capsule passes through the GI tract, it transmits data "including pressure, pH and temperature "to a SmartPill Data Receiver worn by the patient. Once the single-use capsule has passed from the body, the patient returns the Data Receiver to the physician who then can download the collected data to a computer, where it can be analyzed.

The study's co-authors include Drs. Douglas M. Weine and Ellen J. Scherl of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and Michelle Cohen of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y.

About Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a form of colitis, a disease of the intestine, specifically the large intestine or colon, that includes characteristic ulcers, or open sores, in the colon. Because the inflammation makes the colon empty frequently, symptoms typically include diarrhea (sometimes bloody) and often abdominal pain.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and community service.

Weill Cornell physician-scientists have been responsible for many medical advances "including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer; the synthesis of penicillin; the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S.; the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson's disease; the first indication of bone marrow's critical role in tumor growth; and, most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/The Allen Pavilion. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report.

Weill Cornell Medical College is the first U.S. medical college to offer a medical degree overseas and maintains a strong global presence in Austria, Brazil, Haiti, Tanzania, Turkey and Qatar. For more information, visit www.nyp.org and www.med.cornell.edu.

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