Researchers manage to whet appetite with a battery-free implant

A new implantable device developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers offers a new method to combat obesity.

A new implantable device developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers offers a new method to combat obesity. The device, which gently stimulates a nerve ending that connects the stomach to the brain, sends a signal to your brain that your stomach is full.

Today, the most used methods to treat extreme obesity are applications that require intervention in the body, such as stomach reduction surgery. Although these surgeries work, they also bring a number of side effects as they interfere with the body too much. Over the years, researchers have developed the vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) method as an alternative.

The vagus nerve is a channel that allows the brain to communicate with the body. It was discovered that this channel is used to convey to the brain that the stomach is full. Signals from the stomach to the brain cause the brain to curb appetite. So we don’t eat more than we need. In the experiments, it was determined that the feeling of hunger can be reduced by artificial stimulation of the vagus nerve and the brain is made to think that it is full.

Different from previous studies

In 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration FDA approved the first device that stimulates the vagus nerve for obesity control. This device, called the Maestro, although effective, was quite large and difficult to operate. In addition, the device often had to be connected to external batteries and charged.

The newly developed VNS device was a big step after Maestro. The device, which does not need a battery, is quite small and uses real-time movements of the stomach for electrical stimulation. The device works with the fluctuation in the stomach walls. Thus, it does not need a battery and works only after the milking (swallowing movement of the intestines) that takes place after the person starts to eat.

Xudong Wang, one of the researchers, said, “The vibrations occur with the movements of the stomach and enhance the natural system that regulates food intake. It automatically responds to our bodily functions and creates stimulation when needed. Our body knows best.” says.

Tests continue

The device has not yet been tested in humans, but animal tests have been quite successful. In a test in mice, 35 percent weight loss was observed in the first 18 days. The animals experienced an average weight loss over the next 75 days. As soon as the device was removed, the animals returned to their normal eating patterns.

In the next step, it is aimed to further develop the device for implantation in the body. Researchers are also working on a switch system that will easily turn the device on and off. After testing in larger animals, human trials will begin. The team believes that this system will be an important step in preventing obesity.

“We think the device will be more effective and useful than other technologies,” Wang said. says.

Source: New Atlas

A new implantable device developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers offers a new method to combat obesity. The device, which gently stimulates a nerve ending that connects the stomach to the brain, sends a signal to your brain that your stomach is full. Thus, the person stops eating with the feeling of satiety. Since the device sends signals as a result of the fluctuations of the stomach wall, it does not need a battery. In experiments on mice, 35 percent weight loss was achieved in 18 days. The device has not yet been tested in humans.

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