New trials of a high-tech pill have found it can be hugely successful at diagnosing gut disorders.

The tests found the swallowable sensor is 3,000 times more accurate than current technology used to diagnose some gut issues.

Researchers at RMIT University who designed the gas-sensing capsule say it could surpass breath testing as the benchmark for diagnosing gut disorders, and even be able to spot previously undiagnosed conditions.

The vitamin pill-sized capsule, currently being commercialised by Atmo Biosciences, provides real time detection and measurement of hydrogen, carbon dioxides and oxygen in the gut.

The second round of human trials have revealed information about gas production in the gut previously masked when measured indirectly through the breath.

“The rate of false positive and false negative diagnosis that breath tests give is a real problem in gastroenterology,” said the capsule’s co-inventor, RMIT’s Dr Kyle Berean, who is also Chief Technology Officer at Atmo Bioscience.

“Being able to measure these biomarkers at concentrations over 3,000 times greater than breath tests is quite astonishing.

“Importantly this test is non-invasive and allows the patient to continue with their daily life as normal.”

Intestinal gases are currently used to diagnose disorders including small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and carbohydrate malabsorption.

Of the one-in-five people worldwide who will suffer from a gastrointestinal disorder in their lifetime, almost a third remain undiagnosed due to a lack of reliable tests available to gastroenterologists.

Study lead and capsule co-inventor Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh said the results showed high sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio in measuring the concentration of intestinal hydrogen, providing valuable information at the site of intestinal gas production.

“This gives us confidence that our new technology could potentially solve many mysteries of the gut and help the large portion of the population who have not been able to find a useful diagnosis or treatment for their symptoms,” Prof Kalantar-zadeh said.