Fantastic Voyage: GE Invests in Bowel Surfing Capsule that May Help Doctors Detect Colon Cancer

February 3, 2012

There are better ways to pass time than prepping for a colonoscopy. This week, the GE healthymagination fund invested in Israeli company called Check-Cap Ltd. seeking to change that experience.


Inside knowledge: Check-Cap’s capsule may help doctors screen for polyps, the precursors of colorectal cancer.

Check-Cap designed an ingestible capsule that snaps pictures as it travels through the bowels. The device, which employs low energy X-ray-based technology to safely generate high resolution 3D imagery, may help doctors detect colorectal cancer. No cleansing involved. The capsule continuously transmits information to a wrist-worn data receiver. Patients can go play a round of golf or take a walk while the tiny device does its work. At the end of the journey, the capsule leaves the body the “natural” way.

The $250 million healthymagination fund invests in promising healthcare technology companies. It has focused on diagnostics, medical information management technology, and life sciences.

GE Healthcare and Check-Cap will also design and manufacture miniature cadmium zinc telluride (CZT) diagnostic imaging sensors placed inside each Check-Cap capsule. The sensors will give clinicians a full 360-degree view as the capsule moves through the colon. GE Healthcare has many years of experience in developing CZT-based detectors. Similar technologies have been used in the company’s nuclear medicine and bone densitometry systems.




Intrepid traveler: As it moves through the colon, the device transmits data to a wrist-worn receiver. No bowel cleansing required.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and the second in women, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Almost 60 percent of the cases occur in developed regions. Globally, it is the fourth most common cause of death from cancer. About 608,000 deaths from colorectal cancer are estimated worldwide annually, accounting for 8 percent of all cancer deaths. In the United States, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer.

Check-Cap plans to introduce its capsule in the European Union in late 2013, subject to regulatory approval. The company is also in discussions with the U. S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).