Ingestible sensor to transform TB treatment adherence methods

A new, “digitised medicine” could revolutionise the way patients are treated for tuberculosis (TB), according to the results of a study announced during a press conference today at the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health.

Data released show Wireless Observed Therapy (WOT), a digital, ingestible alternative to Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) – the current gold standard for ensuring treatment adherence – to be a significantly more reliable method for treatment monitoring.

Under WOT, patients swallow an ingestible sensor made of minerals found in food which breaks down in the body, releasing a sensor the size of a grain of sand that sends data to a patch worn on the patient’s chest. The patch stores the data until it comes into contact with a mobile device – a tablet or any mobile phone with Bluetooth capacity. The mobile device encrypts the data and sends it via wireless Internet to the patients’ healthcare provider, facilitating remote monitoring and greatly relieving the burden of treatment on the patient. 


“WOT confirmed over 50% more doses than DOT. DOT is only available during business hours, so patients get no support at weekends or holidays and no data are gathered”, said Dr Sara Browne, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

“WOT doesn’t require a lot of personnel and can cover large distances. If it is appropriately implemented, there is no limit to the number of patients you can observe with WOT. And this method creates an immediately digitised record – healthcare providers have instant access to digital summaries of all their patients’ data for analysis.”

The results presented today reflect phase 1 of the trial, which had to prove the accuracy and clinical utility of the digitised medicines before starting phase 2 and testing against a control. The results of phase 2 cannot be shared yet.

“All I can say is that after phase 1, no one wanted to be on DOT” said Dr Browne.