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Digestible batteries required to create electronic pills

An illustration picture shows a woman holding a birth control pill at her home in Nice January 3, 2013. French health regulators are studying limiting the use of contraceptive pills that carry health risks and will stop reimbursing prescription costs of some types from March, after a woman sued drugmaker Bayer over alleged side-effects. An inquiry launched this week by the ANSM health regulator will review prescription practices by doctors, whom it says may be over-prescribing higher-risk third and fourth-generation pills. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: HEALTH)

Washington: Scientists have revealed that electronic pills can be used if digestible batteries are created.

Researchers are still searching for electronic materials (like batteries and circuits) that pose no risk if they get stuck in our bodies.

Christopher Bettinger of the Carnegie Mellon University presented a vision for creating safe, consumable electronics, such as those powered by the charged ions within our digestive tracts.

Bettinger said that the primary risk was the intrinsic toxicity of these materials, for example, if the battery gets mechanically lodged in the gastrointestinal tract–but that’s a known risk, adding that there was very little unknown risk in these kinds of devices.

Bettinger has challenged whether a segmented battery was necessary, as the natural liquids within the body could be the electrolytes that move current through the device. Also, labs have already proven that electronics built using this method could disintegrate in water after 2-3 months.

Bettinger concludes that if they could engineer devices that get the most mileage out of existing drugs, then that was a very attractive value proposition and believes these devices could be tested in patients within the next 5-10 years.

The study is published in the Journal Trends in Biotechnology. (ANI)