MIT researchers led by Professor Dina Katabi are working on a new system called ReMix that is described as a GPS system for the human body. The system is meant to allow the precise location of ingested markers inside the body. Those sensors can be very tiny because they need no internal power source and don’t have to make the wireless signals on their own.
The ReMix system uses an external source to make radio waves and combined with the ingestible sensor markers the system can track the markers with centimeter-level accuracy. The ingestible markers themselves could one day be used to deliver drugs to precise locations inside the body.
ReMix uses an external wireless device that has been shown in past research to be able to detect heart rate, breathing, and movement. The team uses a special algorithm that can use that external signal to detect the precise location on the market inside the body. The marker simply reflects the wireless signals that the external device beams at the body.
The challenge is in sorting out stronger signals that reflect off the skin from the much weaker signal reflected by the marker inside the body. The team says that the reflection off the skin is 100 million times stronger than the reflection from the marker. That algorithm can eliminate the skin reflections allowing precise location of the marker.
One major potential use for the ReMix system is in proton therapy that allows a magnet-controlled beam of protons to precisely target a tumor. The problem is that proton therapy is only viable now on certain types of cancers that don’t move. With the ReMix system the proton beam could be precisely steering in real-time protecting healthy tissue and making proton therapy more widely available to fight cancer.