Weight Loss Implant Simulates Food Inside Stomach

There are millions of clinicians fighting on the front lines of the obesity epidemic every day, but there doesn’t seem to be a winning strategy. The population of seriously overweight people around the world is rising and will soon reach one billion. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers may have a technological, drug-free solution to the problem for many of those afflicted.

The team developed a tiny battery-free implant that’s only about a centimeter across, which stimulates the vagus nerve, and in turn the brain. The device is attached to the stomach, which it can sense moving, as happens when food drops in from the esophagus. Because there’s a tiny nanogenerator built in, the device produces its own power from simply being shaken around by the stomach. When it detects the stomach peristalsis, it begins to electrically stimulate the vagus nerve right from the stomach, and does it for longer than the stomach would naturally do. This seems to give the brain the impression that more food entered the GI tract than really did, satisfying the hunger, but with what can be described as “virtual” food.

In trials on lab rats, the implant led to a nearly 40% weight loss in the rats treated compared to control groups. This is quite impressive, and the surgery is much simpler compared to procedures such as gastric bypass. Of course rats are not humans, but we’re hoping that trials will get underway soon, as an effective, non-pharmacological treatment option would for weight loss would be a great thing for a lot of people.

Study in Nature Communications: Effective weight control via an implanted self-powered vagus nerve stimulation device…

Via: UW-Madison…

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