MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — The West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) is working on technology that can remotely detect and monitor vital signs.

In a press release, RNI said it’s created an ingestible “smart pill” that goes through patients’ digestive tract, detecting respiration, heart rate, temperature, and gastric motility from inside the body.

Ali Rezai M.D. holds the Celero VM Pill CREDIT: WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute

During a study, 10 participants who were undergoing sleep studies at the WVU Medicine Sleep Evaluation Center swallowed a Celero Systems Vitals Monitoring Pill (VM Pill). The pill-sized device contains wireless sensors.

“This technology has the potential to transform how we monitor vital signs in patients by having the capability to measure respiration, heart rate, and other key body functions from an ingestible pill in people’s natural environment outside of the clinic or the hospital,” Ali Rezai, M.D., executive chair of the RNI, said in the release. “The results are encouraging and provide us with new capabilities to help those at risk for overdose.”

The RNI said during the study, the pill was able to accurately detect when the participants’ breathing slowed or stopped, which has made researchers hopeful that it could help identify the early indications of an overdose.

Results of a follow-up study are expected to be made available in the coming months. During that study, patients in a residential addiction treatment setting ingested the pill.

“Initial data collected from the VM Pill study for addiction is promising,” James Mahoney, Ph.D., clinical neuropsychologist and director of addictions research at the RNI, said in the release.

The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provisional data found that there were 105,452 fatal overdoses in the United States in 2022 and an estimated 800,000 nonfatal overdoses.