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A novel mapping device for understanding gut issues created by University of Auckland researchers after a decade of development has passed its initial human clinical trials. This achievement represents a noteworthy advancement in gut health research, as the device can non-invasively measure gut electrical signals, offering potential for easier diagnosis of complex stomach issues by doctor.

Researchers can now get insight on gut signals

Dr. Tim Angeli-Gordon from the University of Auckland emphasizes the significance of transitioning from engineering and pre-clinical studies to treating real patients, considering it as the ultimate goal in bioengineering.

A research paper led by postgraduate researcher Peter Tremain reports initial findings from a study with 13 patients, with subsequent data collected from 35 patients in Auckland and Christchurch. Tremain emphasizes plans to utilize data from these trials to enhance the device’s design, particularly by refining the electrical signal filtering to isolate gut signals amidst background noise.

In contrast to cardiac signals, stomach signals exhibit a substantially similar amplitude to background noise. Additionally, external vibrations stemming from equipment operation or regular movement may contribute to signal interference.

New device allows understanding of gut signaling

Research conducted by Angeli-Gordon highlights the advancement in human research, particularly in understanding gut electrical signaling. This research builds upon the initial discovery made in the early 1900s regarding the role of electrical signals in controlling the gut, similar to the heart. Unlike earlier studies which required open surgery for diagnosing abnormal gut rhythms using electrodes placed externally on the stomach, their research introduces a minimally invasive device that straps onto the abdomen, providing doctors with precise insights into gut malfunctions.

In 2022, Alimetry, a company spun off from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, received clearance from the U.S. FDA for a gut version of an electrocardiogram (ECG) that provides insights into the normality of electric signals in the body. While this innovation offers valuable information, it still lacks the strength of heart waves. Nonetheless, the product now enables doctors to pinpoint issues and their locations accurately, providing relief to patients by offering definitive measurements of gut abnormalities.