Bioinspired, ingestible electroceutical capsules for hunger-regulating hormone modulation

Khalil B. Ramadi, James C. McRae, George Selsing, Arnold Su, Rafael Fernandes, Maela Hickling, Brandon Rios, Sahab Babaee, Seokkee Min, Declan Gwynne, Neil Zixun Jia, Aleyah Aragon, Keiko Ishida, Johannes Kuosmanen, Josh Jenkins, Alison Hayward, Ken Kamrin, Giovanni Traverso

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The gut-brain axis, which is mediated via enteric and central neurohormonal signaling, is known to regulate a broad set of physiological functions from feeding to emotional behavior. Various pharmaceuticals and surgical interventions, such as motility agents and bariatric surgery, are used to modulate this axis. Such approaches, however, are associated with off-target effects or post-procedure recovery time and expose patients to substantial risks. Electrical stimulation has also been used to attempt to modulate the gut-brain axis with greater spatial and temporal resolution. Electrical stimulation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, however, has generally required invasive intervention for electrode placement on serosal tissue. Stimulating mucosal tissue remains challenging because of the presence of gastric and intestinal fluid, which can influence the effectiveness of local luminal stimulation. Here, we report the development of a bioinspired ingestible fluid-wicking capsule for active stimulation and hormone modulation (FLASH) capable of rapidly wicking fluid and locally stimulating mucosal tissue, resulting in systemic modulation of an orexigenic GI hormone. Drawing inspiration from Moloch horridus, the “thorny devil” lizard with water-wicking skin, we developed a capsule surface capable of displacing fluid. We characterized the stimulation parameters for modulation of various GI hormones in a porcine model and applied these parameters to an ingestible capsule system. FLASH can be orally administered to modulate GI hormones and is safely excreted with no adverse effects in porcine models. We anticipate that this device could be used to treat metabolic, GI, and neuropsychiatric disorders noninvasively with minimal off-target effects.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numbereade9676
    JournalScience Robotics
    Issue number77
    StatePublished - Apr 1 2023

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Medicine


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