Children's Hospital Colorado

Doctors Pioneer 'String Test' for Improved Upper Gastrointestinal Monitoring

Children's Hospital Colorado | August 22, 2022

Children’s Hospital Colorado announced that a care-changing test is now commercially available. It is designed to monitor inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract by painlessly collecting samples while the patient remains awake and alert. This saves patients more costly and invasive testing that includes having to receive anesthesia.

Technology a 'game changer'

“I began this project when I joined Children’s Colorado in 2007,” said pediatric gastroenterologist Glenn T. Furuta, MD, of the pediatric hospital system's Digestive Health Institute and Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Diseases Program. “We knew there had to be options to save our patients from having to go under anesthesia in order to obtain results that would tell us much-needed information about their conditions. We are thrilled at the outcome of this product and the real changes in care this will provide not just our patients, but patients across the country as this technology becomes available for other hospitals to use. It’s truly a game changer in the delivery of care.”

String test provides low-cost, accurate analysis for diagnosis and monitoring

The EnteroTracker – commonly referred to as the “string test” – was developed by Dr. Furuta; Robin Shandas, PhD, professor and chair of bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver's College of Engineering, Design and Computing; and Steven Ackerman, PhD, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago.

The EnteroTracker provides low-cost, accurate analysis of esophageal content and identifies the presence of esophageal inflammation. This allows providers to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

How the string test works

The string test is simple: The patient simply swallows a secured capsule that is composed of a specialty string. As it makes its way to the small intestine, the string continues to unravel. After a few minutes of comfortable rest for the patient, the clinician can gently remove the string, use pH and distance marking to identify sections of the string that correspond to the GI tract, and send the string to the lab for analysis.

Test monitors GI tract inflammation more precisely

The test has been shown to be effective in monitoring inflammatory eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) and may have uses in other diseases including severe gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), eosinophilic gastroenteritis (EGE), food allergic enteropathy (FAE) and inflammatory bowel disease (lBD). These diseases can be difficult to monitor with blood tests, and radio-imaging cannot sample these parts of the GI tract easily.

About EnteroTrack

EnteroTrack develops simple-to-use, minimally invasive technologies to sample GI mucosal content that can be assayed for various biomarkers of disease. The company’s platform technology, the EnteroTracker®, is initially being used to support clinical monitoring of EoE in adults and children without the need for sedation, advanced training or complex procedures. Clinical studies evaluating the utility of the EnteroTracker® for additional applications, including esophageal adenocarcinoma, Barrett’s esophagus, GERD, GI microbiome, food allergy testing and other conditions, are currently underway.