DEC 18, 2018 11:06 PM PST

Battery-free Implantable Device for Weight Loss

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Obesity is considered a rising epidemic affecting more than 700 million adults and children. Measures to control obesity have ranged from risky weight-loss drugs, gastric bypass, to long strenuous diet plans and physical activity.

Learn more about the obesity epidemic:

 

 

Now, a study published in Nature Communications proposes a novel measure developed by engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to combat the epidemic—a battery-free, easily implantable weight-loss device.

The implantable device was seen in laboratory testing to shed almost 40 percent of body weight in mice. The device can be implanted through a minimally invasive procedure and is considered safe for use in the body. It is very tiny measuring about a third of the area of a penny.

Specifically, the device works by using the natural churning motions of the stomach to generate gentle electric pulses delivering them to the brain via the vagus nerve. The electrical stimulation tricks the brain into think the stomach is full after only a few bites of food. "The pulses correlate with the stomach's motions, enhancing a natural response to help control food intake," explains Xudong Wang, a UW-Madison professor of materials science and engineering.

Operation principle schematically showing the pathway for electric signal generation by the stomach via the vagus nerve and into the brain.

Credit: Nature Communications

What’s unique about this device is it needs no batteries, electronics, or complicated wiring to function properly—the device relies on the motions of the stomach by the stimulations of the vagus nerve to power its internal generators. "One potential advantage of the new device over existing vagus nerve stimulators is that it does not require external battery charging, which is a significant advantage when you consider the inconvenience that patients experience when having to charge a battery multiple times a week for an hour or so,” says Wang. "It's automatically responsive to our body function, producing stimulation when needed; our body knows best."

Source: College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison , Nature Communications

About the Author
  • Nouran enjoys writing on various topics including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
FEB 13, 2019
Space & Astronomy
FEB 13, 2019
NASA Officially Terminates the Opportunity Rover Mission
NASA’s Opportunity rover was the interplanetary version of the little engine that could; unfortunately, it couldn’t. The American space agency...
FEB 26, 2019
Space & Astronomy
FEB 26, 2019
Japan's Hayabusa-2 Probe Lands on Asteroid for Sample Collection
It was only a few months ago that the Japanese space agency’s Hayabusa-2 mission dropped a couple of ‘hopping’ rovers on asteroid 162173...
FEB 27, 2019
Space & Astronomy
FEB 27, 2019
Is Lunar Exploration Making a Comeback?
NASA astronauts first visited the Moon in the 1960s during the American space agency’s Apollo program, but fast-forward to modern times, and it almos...
MAR 06, 2019
Space & Astronomy
MAR 06, 2019
Here's What it Would Take to Build a Full-Fledged Lunar Base
Astronauts have been to the Moon before, but only for short periods. One of humankind’s long-term goals is to establish a science base on the lunar s...
MAR 31, 2019
Space & Astronomy
MAR 31, 2019
NASA Astronauts Upgrade the International Space Station in Latest Spacewalk
As expected, a team of two NASA astronauts comprised of Nick Hague and Christina Koch performed a controversial spacewalk on Friday, March 29th in an effor...
APR 15, 2019
Technology
APR 15, 2019
Senor Tracks Chemicals Effectively After Neurotrauma
  Glutamate, a chemical messenger in the brain, can spike to toxic levels following spinal cord injury that can lead to migraines. The need to catch s...
Loading Comments...