Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne have created a gas sensing swallowable capsule that could revolutionise the way that gut disorders and diseases are prevented and diagnosed.

The trials have uncovered mechanisms in the human body that have never been seen before, including a potentially new immune system.

The new technology and discoveries offer a game-changer for the one-in-five people worldwide who will suffer from a gastrointestinal disorder in their lifetime. They could also lead to fewer invasive procedures like colonoscopies.

The ingestible capsule (the size of a vitamin pill) detects and measures gut gases – hydrogen, carbon dioxides and oxygen – in real time. This data can be sent to a mobile phone.

Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, study lead and capsule co-inventor, said the trials showed that the human stomach uses an oxidiser to fight foreign bodies in the gut.

“We found that the stomach releases oxidising chemicals to break down and beat foreign compounds that are staying in the stomach for longer than usual,” Kalantar-zadeh said.

“This could represent a gastric protection system against foreign bodies. Such an immune mechanism has never been reported before.”

The university has partnered with Planet Innovation to establish a company called Atmo Biosciences and bring the product to market.