Getting a look at these digestive neurons, called the enteric nervous system, could provide insight into gastrointestinal conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome. These disorders stymied researchers in the past, because current GI imaging can’t see the neurological activity likely related to these problems.
After their work was published in Nature Communications in June, the group improved the picture’s quality by adding more sensors. They are also making their technology available to other groups studying diseases like IBS. What started as a window into a nervous system could become a door to better understanding and treatment of GI diseases, Shen says.