An in-body GPS system for your body

CSAIL wireless system suggests a future where doctors could implant sensors to track tumors or even dispense drugs.

in-body GPS system
The new system was developed by a CSAIL group led by Professor Dina Katabi (pictured)

Exploring inside the human body frequently requires cutting open a patient or swalloing long tubes with built-in cameras. To do this better and in less expensive, invasive, and time-consuming manner, MIT scientists developed an in-body GPS system called ReMix.

Using this new method, physicians could identify the location of ingestible implants inside the body using low-power wireless signals. Scientists suggest that this system could be used as tiny tracking devices on shifting tumors to help monitor their slight movements.

For testing purpose, scientists primarily implanted a small marker in animal tissues. To track its movement, the researchers used a wireless device that reflects radio signals off the patient. This was based on a wireless technology that the researchers previously demonstrated to detect heart rate, breathing, and movement. A special algorithm then uses that signal to pinpoint the exact location of the marker.

Curiously, the marker inside the body does not have to transmit any remote signal. It basically reflects the signal transmitted by the remote device outside the body. Along these lines, it needn’t bother with a battery or some other outside wellspring of energy.

The system also composed of a small semiconductor device, called a “diode,” that mixes signals together so the team can then filter out the skin-related signals.

For instance, if the skin reflects at frequencies of F1 and F2, the diode makes new mixes of those frequencies, for example, F1-F2 and F1+F2. At the point when the majority of the signs reflect back to the framework, the framework just gets the joined frequencies, sifting through the first frequencies that originated from the patient’s skin.

Professor Dina Katabi, research led said, “One potential application for ReMix is in proton therapy, a type of cancer treatment that involves bombarding tumors with beams of magnet-controlled protons. The approach allows doctors to prescribe higher doses of radiation, but requires a very high degree of precision, which means that it’s usually limited to only certain cancers.”

“Its success hinges on something that’s actually quite unreliable: a tumor staying exactly where it is during the radiation process. If a tumor moves, then healthy areas could be exposed to the radiation. But with a small marker like ReMix’s, doctors could better determine the location of a tumor in real-time and either pause the treatment or steer the beam into the right position.”

Romit Roy Choudhury, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Illinois said, “The ability to continuously sense inside the human body has largely been a distant dream. One of the roadblocks has been wireless communication to a device and its continuous localization. ReMix makes a leap in this direction by showing that the wireless component of implantable devices may no longer be the bottleneck.”