An Ingestible Bacterial-Electronic System to Monitor Gastrointestinal Health In Situ


This ingestible microbioelectronic device (IMBED) is a gastrointestinal diagnostic device capable of detecting upper gastrointestinal bleeding. It may aid in monitoring patients at high risk for bleeding from health conditions such as peptic ulcers, and in the triage of individuals who require further endoscopic or surgical intervention. Finally, IMBEDs may enable new opportunities for gastrointestinal biomarker discovery, transforming the management and diagnosis of gastrointestinal disease.

Problem Addressed

Current gastrointestinal diagnostics are not capable of real-time reporting in vivo because they use degradable biochemical transducers that necessitate large, power-demanding circuits. IMBED uses environmentally-resilient bacteria as a biosensor to rapidly detect gastrointestinal biomolecules associated with bleeding within the stomach.


IMBED is an ingestible diagnostic capable of in vivo biosensing in harsh, difficult-to-access environments such as the stomach. The system encapsulates biosensor bacteria adjacent to the readout electronics in individual wells separated from the outside environment by a semi-permeable membrane that confines sample cells within the device. The biosensor bacteria utilizes bioluminescence to generate light when sensing target biomarkers within the sample cells. Photodetectors sense the light, and a wireless transmitter sends the biomarker information to an external device for convenient readout.


  • Capable of continuous readouts
  • Minimally invasive sensing in vivo
  • Real-time in situ reporting
  • Robust capsule capable of biosensing in harsh, difficult-to-access regions of the body