ASU engineers developing edible medical devices

Posted at 5:10 AM, Oct 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-17 20:35:33-04

ASU engineers are working to test edible, digestible medical devices on human patients next year. 

Professor Hanqing Jiang leads a team of six students working on the project.

After testing the viability of around 40 foods, the team created edible "breadbox" devices -- which can be outfitted with edible resistors -- and a pH sensor that could potentially track acid reflux in the stomach. Data can be transmitted, using antennas made of food and edible materials like sweet potato, marshmallows and gold dust, to a receiver outside the body. 

Hanqing began working on the project two years ago in hopes of finding a safer solution than implants and surgery. 

What's next? 

The team is working to build devices roughly the size of half a pinky finger. They're also developing a special coating that will slow the digestive process of the device. Currently, the body fully consumes the device in less than five minutes, he said, but the team is hoping to extend that to "a day or two." 

Learn more about the project here