Obesity is one of the biggest health challenges faced today. Experts say that more than one-third of people in the U.S. alone suffer from this condition. On a global scale, almost 4 million people died in the year 2015 due to complications secondary to obesity.
This worrisome and ever-mounting toll of risks related to obesity has forced the scientists to dig deep into the mechanisms and understanding of obesity.
It is a common trend to observe how some people are more prone to developing this disorder while others seem to be naturally immune. This is actually a multifaceted phenomenon and depends on hormonal, genetic, and psychological factors.
Weight gain is said to be the direct cause of obesity and occurs due to the consumption of calories in an amount higher than what your body requires.
A New Implantable Obesity-controlling Technology
Given the importance of obesity and the complications accompanying it, the researchers belonging to the University of Wisconsin-Madison tried a high-tech solution for it.
These researchers came up with a tiny device that is implanted into the body with a hope to reduce hunger and accelerate weight loss. Less than one centimeter in size, this device can be implanted with the help of a minimally invasive technique.
The device consisted of a flexible nanogenerator which sent electricity pulses via vagus nerve between the brain and the stomach. The activation of this device was hoped to convince the brain that your body is not hungry thereby, controlling the amount of food you eat.
More importantly, this device did not need any sort of charging or battery. Instead, it was constructed in a way to derive energy from the churning movements happening in the stomach.
Because peristaltic movements were meant to supply this device, it only worked when you ingested food. This means that the device could only activate and work during meal times.
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The pulses emitted by this device correlated with the movements of the stomach. This enhanced a natural response in order to limit the food intake, as per the scientists. For testing this device, the scientists used a rat model.
The scientists demonstrated the workability of this device on rats and were able to achieve 38 percent of weight loss in only 15 days without any further rebound.
No Safety Concerns Detected
Perhaps the most important aspect of this new weight-controlling device is that it is completely safe.
In the present study, it stayed implanted into its due position throughout the entire length of a 12-week trial. No side effects were visible on the renal system and the liver. Additionally, there was no super-imposition of any infection.
Just to be sure, the scientists performed postmortem examinations on the organs of these animals but did not find any signs of damage.
Comparing it to other weight loss devices, the current implant offers certain benefits. While gastric surgery is an irreversible process that can reduce the total capacity of your stomach, this implant offers a reversible solution through less invasive procedures.
This implant is not the first of its kind to use vagus nerve stimulation for controlling hunger pangs. Another similar product is in the market which has been approved by the FDA as well. However, this product requires 3 hours of charging per week which might cause inconvenience.
The use of this implant in human trials needs a lot of time. However, the researchers are eager to continue this study and aim to use the device in larger animals in the next trials.
For detailed information about this research, click here.