The Noisy Guts Project – non-invasive diagnosis of gut disorders
Functional gastrointestinal diseases, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are extremely common, affecting up to 20% of people in western countries.
IBS symptoms include pain, bloating and altered bowel habits. It can be debilitating, embarrassing, and have a huge impact on quality of life.
Similar symptoms to those of IBS also result from several physical diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which together are known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). These are less common, but can be extremely serious, and benefit from rapid intervention to prevent complications including development of bowel cancer.
Current methods for diagnosing IBS typically include invasive tests, such as colonoscopy to exclude IBD and other serious diseases. These tests are costly, uncomfortable and carry risks, and still do not provide a positive diagnosis for IBS.
The Noisy Guts Project is the brainchild of Nobel Laureate, Prof Barry Marshall. The team are developing an acoustic belt that records gut noises over time so doctors can accurately screen, diagnose and monitor gut disorders and diseases. The sounds will be combined with data on heart rate, skin temperature and skin galvanic response (sweating) for analysis. The belt will provide doctors with a new, accurate and non-invasive approach to IBS diagnosis and screening for IBD. It will reduce the number of IBS patients on waiting lists for gastroenterologists. It will also reduce the time delay in diagnosis of patients with physical diseases.
There is existing data to indicate strong correlations between gut sound characteristics and gut disorders. However, we need additional sound recording and physiological data from healthy, IBS and IBD guts, to allow us to generate more powerful software for the belt. At this point we specifically need recordings from volunteers with a recent diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, proctitis or ulcerative colitis. This will broaden the accuracy and capabilities of the belt. The sound recordings will also be paired with data from an online survey, so that we can match symptoms to sounds.
Our product capitalises on today’s trend of wearable technology and will be supported by a smartphone app that records symptoms. Our belt works similarly to the way in which an ECG monitors your heart rate. The end result is a safe, non-invasive screening, monitoring and diagnostic tool.
Is your rumbling tummy trying to tell us something?
We need volunteers from three groups: people with healthy guts, those with a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and those with a recent diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis).
First, you will need to complete a quick online survey about your gut health so that we can work out if you are a suitable participant, and which group you fit into. We will then ring you to check on your symptoms. You will also need to let us check with your GP about your diagnosis.
Then we will be in touch to arrange a time for you to visit us at the Marshall Centre to wear the belt so that we can gather recordings of your gut sounds. We will monitor your heart rate, temperature and skin galvanic response at the same time.
You will need to skip breakfast before you come in. We will sit you in one of our comfy arm chairs at the Marshall Centre and record sounds for two hours, give you breakfast and then make recordings for another 40 minutes. We may then send you home to wear the belt for up to 24 hours, if you are happy to do so.
You will also need to use an online diary to record your diet and any digestive system activities or symptoms whilst recordings are happening. You can do this via a smartphone.
The belt is safe, and the study has been approved by UWA’s Human Research Ethics Committee.
Thank you for offering to participate. We are extremely grateful for your help in gathering data to help us power ahead with development of a safe, non-invasive diagnostic tool for gut disorders.
Another way to assist
If you are unable to volunteer, or would like to help further, please consider making a donation to help us with this project. Visit https://campaign.uwa.edu.au/give-now
- Click on the button next to “Select a specific fund or appeal”
- In the box that appears, type “Marshall Centre Noisy Guts Project”
- Professor Barry Marshall
- Professor Adam Osseiran
- Dr Josephine Muir
- Mr Peter Du
- Dr Gary Allwood
- Dr Andrisha Inderjeeth
- Dr Mary Webberley
- Dr Sue Robson