AUTOCAPSULE: The new EIC Pathfinder project addressing a major healthcare challenge

Monday, 9 November, 2020
anatomical drawing of human gastrointestinal tract
The AUTOCAPSULE project focuses on technological improvement of diagnostic methods for colorectal cancer, by developing a new type of endoscopic capsule.

AUTOCAPSULE was chosen in 2019 EIC Pathfinder call (FET Proactive: emerging paradigms and communities, FETPROACT-EIC-05-2019), in the subtopic category of implantable autonomous devices and materials. Its aim is to demonstrate the viability of a technology for early diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer and for monitoring of treatment effectiveness at primary or secondary point of care.

According to scientific studies, 15 – 40 % of the European population report functional gastro-intestinal  conditions. The AUTOCAPSULE project focuses on inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the most common form of cancer in Europe and affects many thousands of people each year, as stated in the White Paper about colorectal cancer.   

Colorectal cancer affects the digestive tract in its final part, i.e. the part from the colon (also known as the large intestine) to the rectum. In early stages of the cancer, the disease is confined to the colon and rectum but advanced cancer can lead to metastatic colorectal cancer, which affects also other organs.

To improve diagnostic methods, which are crucial especially in early stages of cancer, AUTOCAPSULE proposes to develop an untethered autonomous multimodal implantable endoscopic capsule for the gastrointestinal tracing. The capsule could be capable of multimodal sensing, including micro ultrasound imaging, white light imaging, ph monitoring and inflammation monitoring.

“AUTOCAPSULE pursues a very risky and original goal, with several technological challenges and the extremely high potential gain of advancing a science-enabled technology for the fabrication of an autonomous implantable capsule for gastro-intestinal tract monitoring, that can mitigate the chronic health conditions of a large and increasing portion of the population,” said the researchers in the project proposal.

The project starts in November 2020 and is realised with participation of research entities from Italy (the coordinating institution is University of Pisa), Belgium and the United Kingdom.

Background information

FET-Open and FET Proactive are now part of the Enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) Pilot (specifically the Pathfinder), the new home for deep-tech research and innovation in Horizon 2020, the EU funding programme for research and innovation.