The ‘pillcam’ developed by Scottish scientists

SCOTTISH scientists are leading a groundbreaking study to develop a “pillcam” carrying tiny ultrasound technology that can be swallowed by patients.

• Scottish scientists are developing revolutionary “pillcam” technology

• It is hoped technology will make gastrointestinal examinations easier

The £5 million research project to develop the diagnostic capsule is being headed by researchers at Dundee University’s Institute for Medical Science and Technology.

And the aim is to develop a capsule that can be easily swallowed and pass through the gastrointestinal tract, relaying images which clinicians can then use to diagnose any problems with patients suffering from gastrointestinal problems.

Professor Sandy Cochran, who is one of the leading researchers in the project said: “The principal current method of examining problems within the gastrointestinal tract is endoscopy, which is very uncomfortable and requires a high-level of clinical skill.

“So-called `pillcams’ are a developing area of medical technology which have already benefitted more than one million patients. What we want to do is develop that technology further to include ultrasound, for the first time seeing beyond the surface of the gastrointestinal tract into the tissue itself. This will bring significant diagnostic benefits for patients. We also want to explore treatment with such pills.”

The project, being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, also involves researchers at Heriot Watt and Glasgow universities. and builds on Scotland’s world-leading research capabilities in medical ultrasound.

The grant is part of a £47 million investment in leading engineering research projects announced by David Willetts, the UK Minister for Universities and Science,.

Mr Willetts said: “Over the last two centuries engineering innovations have transformed lives, but we still face global challenges like tackling climate change, improving healthcare and meeting basic needs, like access to clean water. This significant investment recognises the vital role that the UK research base can have in providing solutions to these challenges.”