Science Daily reports on a new invention that helped rats lose 40 percent of their body weight during lab tests in only 12 days. The engineers of this small implantable device from the University of Wisconsin-Madison say that this device could be an answer to the “rising pandemic” of obesity. So what exactly does this implantable, non-battery operated device do to aid in weight loss?
The implant, about one centimeter in length, is about one-third the size of a United States’ penny and generates a slight, gentle electric pulse from the stomach’s natural churning motions, sending them to the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve connects a person’s brain with their stomach; the nerve that is synonymous with hunger pangs.
A professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Xudong Wang, has remarked on the creation and studies of what is believed to be a new and promising weapon for weight loss.
“The pulses correlate with the stomach’s motions, enhancing a natural response to help control food intake.”
This device has several advantages over other existing weight-loss options, according to Wang and other collaborators involved in the making and studying of this implantable device. Currently, gastric bypass is a popular weight-loss surgery that is entirely permanent and completely alters the stomach’s capacity for food. While longer-term risks and complications of this type of surgery vary depending on the individual and the surgery performed, some of the risks can include bowel obstruction and dumping syndrome, leading to malnutrition of iron, calcium, and other vitamins. Risks also include stomal stenosis, which occurs when there is tightening and narrowing of the new opening between the stomach and intestine after Roux-en-Y weight loss procedures, cites Stanford Healthcare. Such an issue can cause vomiting after eating and drinking. There are a lot of other complications and risks involved in these types of weight-loss surgeries, which can all be read about on Stanford Healthcare for those who may be considering those options.
Wang’s new implantable device is entirely reversible. In fact, during the study, to test this reversibility, the collaborators removed the device from the rats after 12 weeks, and the rats resumed their normal eating patterns and weight bounced right back.
“It’s automatically responsive to our body function, producing stimulation when needed.Our body knows best.”
Wang and his collaborators have patented the weight-loss device through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and are currently moving forward with testing in larger animal models. If the device is successful in further animal studies, they hope to move toward human trials.