To fight against overweight, American researchers have imagined an implant positioned in the stomach. It stimulates the vagus nerve, which links the brain to the intestine, to regulate hunger.
“We have developed an implantable device to stimulate the vagus nerve to reduce food consumption,” Professor Xudong Wang, a specialist in nanoelectric systems, said to Guizbot. He and his team has created a device that allows people suffering from obesity to reduce the feeling of hunger. Stuck in the stomach, the device would produce electrical impulses.
Intelligent sensors have already been developed to combat overweight. Their main function, coupled with a smartphone, to keep an eye on the health of the user. But this new system designed by engineers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison has the ability, beyond the observation of the body’s internal processes, to play on the patient’s satiety.
“It’s a smart, self-contained device with no electronics or power,” says Wang. It produces electrical impulses in response to the movements of the stomach and transmits them through the vagus nerve to the brain as a signal of artificial fullness, able to prevent further eating. It does not require an external battery to function, unlike the Maestro Rechargeable System implant, recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The new device generates by itself up to 0.5 volts, enough power to function, simply thanks to the natural movements of the stomach.
Tested on rats, the implant seems to bear fruit: the rodents who wore it weighed 38% less than the others. Tests are still need on larger animals, such as pigs, to eventually be able to perform tests on humans. The track is therefore promising to reduce obesity. According to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) and since 1995, the number of cases of obesity and overweight has almost tripled in the world, reaching the 650 million adults in 2016. In the US, more than 36.5% of adults and about 20% of children aged 6 to 19 are obese.
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