From bioresorbable stents to edible electronics, there is an emerging trend to restore our bodies to their natural state after receiving treatment via medical devices. Aside from a more natural recovery, edible electronics (which include, but are not limited to, smart pills and edible batteries) also allow for improved health monitoring among other benefits.
Smart pills can make it possible for patients to take certain medications orally that must currently be injected so as to bypass the destructive stomach acid. Common treatments for osteoporosis and arthritis, for instance, must be injected. A smart pill can be programmed to protect the medication until it has passed through the stomach and release it in the intestine. The biodegradable battery could be used to power these devices, creating a bypass system for medication that needs to be delivered to the intestines.
These batteries could also be used as a power supply to run sensors that monitor patient health from inside the body. These batteries are derived from cuttlefish ink, and after ingestion, they break down into nontoxic components in the body. While still in the development stage, research is currently being led by Christopher Bettinger from Carnegie Mellon University, whose novel battery technology could add to existing devices including Proteus Digital Health's digestible sensors as well as Intel's Quark chip.
Ultimately, these devices highlight the necessity to preserve the natural state of the body while utilizing medical devices to better monitor and treat patients. As the development of this technology continues, it is not hard to see a future where biodegradable material will play a larger role in the medical device industry.