The WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute conducted the first human study using an innovative “smart pill” technology that measures and monitors vital signs. The pill helps with diseases but has the potential to detect signs of an overdose. RNI Executive Director Dr. Ali Rezai explained that the pill has small sensors that measure respiration by the movements of the lung, heart rate and rhythm, internal temperature, and intestinal movements.
In a study at the WVU Medicine Sleep Evaluation Center, ten participants swallowed the Celero Systems vitals monitoring pill and underwent sleep studies. The use of the pill was successful in patients with different disorders such as sleep apnea, atrial fibrillation, and arrhythmias.
Researchers are now exploring the potential of this technology to aid in addressing the opioid crisis. The hope is that the pill can detect signs of an overdose or respiratory depression and send alarms to caretakers, care support teams, and first responders to save lives.
In 2022 alone, there were more than 100,000 overdose deaths, and the number of non-fatal ODs was even higher. The smart pill technology could be a remote solution to address this issue, potentially saving many lives.
Dr. Rezai expressed concern over the increasing numbers of overdose deaths, and they are hopeful that the smart pill technology can make a significant impact in combating this crisis.
The next step for researchers is to test the pill in people with different addictions and substance use disorders. Additionally, the development of a pill that can stay inside the intestine for a week is in progress, along with the exploration of a pathway that would allow for a chamber of medication inside the pill to address overdose signs.
While still in the early stages, researchers hope that this technology will be available to the public by 2025.