SensoPellet: A new tool to investigate signalling and motility in the lower digestive tract

Project Details


Chronic constipation and faecal incontinence are prevalent in the elderly and often lead to social isolation. Little is known regarding why these conditions occur with age; however they have been classified as functional bowel disorders.

Signalling molecules such as serotonin regulate the motility of the bowel, and therefore investigating alterations in these signalling molecules may help our understanding of these disorders.

In this project we aimed to develop a new medical device, known as the SensoPellet, which is a sensor based device moulded into the shape of a faecal pellet. This device was used to understand the process of normal defecation. The device consisted of carbon composite electrodes encased in a cavity moulded into the shape of a faecal pellet. This device was characterised for its suitability for conducting stable biological recordings in colonic tissue. Biological recordings allowed the means to simultaneously monitor serotonin levels and image the motion of the pellet to understand the process of terminal bowel motility. The ability of the device to help us elucidate the process of normal defecation is important to understand what changes occur during the onset of age related disorders or how colonic motility is altered by various therapeutic agents utilised at present.

Key findings

The developed sensopellet device was of interest to a commercial manufacturer who has unique expertise, and the fact that we have a line of products (Gastrointestinal Motility Monitor) geared towards understanding physiology of the gut, the developed device was an ideal.

A translational development of the device for commercial manufacture was proposed and, following initial rejection by the EPSRC and subsequent interest from a company who ceased to operate, we received funding from EPSRC Impress plus to focus on further development of a motility device for monitoring of the lower bowel. We are in talks with the NIHR Surgical MedTech cooperation.
Effective start/end date1/05/1230/06/13




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