A battery-free, implantable weight loss device has been developed by engineers to reduce hunger pangs and help the user to control their food consumption.
Engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US, have developed the implantable weight loss device, which uses electrical pulses to trick the stomach and the brain into reacting as though the stomach is full.
How does the implantable weight loss device work?
The implantable weight loss device is tiny, measuring less than 1 centimetre wide. It is safe to use in the body and can be implanted using a minimally invasive procedure.
The device generates gentle electric pulses from the stomach’s natural churning motions. It then delivers these to the vagus nerve, which is the nerve linking the brain and the stomach.
The device contains no batteries, no electronics, or complex complicated wiring and relies on the natural movements of the stomach walls to power the internal generators of the device. This means that the device only stimulates the vagus nerve when the stomach moves.
Xudong Wang, professor of materials science and engineering at the university, said: “The pulses correlate with the stomach’s motions, enhancing a natural response to help control food intake.”
Wang added: “It’s automatically responsive to our body function, producing stimulation when needed. Our body knows best.”
In laboratory testing, rats lost almost 40 percent of their body weight using the device.
According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a 2017 study states that more than 700 million adults and children worldwide are obese and the growing number and weight-related health problems is a “rising pandemic.”
Wang and his collaborators patented the weight-loss device through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. They are now moving towards testing on larger animal models which they hope will lead to human trials.
“Our expectation is that the device will be more effective and convenient to use than other technologies”, Wang concluded.