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article imageE-device can address hunger pangs

By Tim Sandle     Dec 28, 2018 in Health
Trying to diet but finding it hard to resit those hunger pangs? A new electronic device could be the solution. The tiny, implantable device manages to short-circuits hunger pangs and it can aid weight loss.
The new device is battery-free and it is easily implantable into the body, via a small surgical procedure. The weight-loss device was developed by engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The invention could provide a promising solution for battling the bulge, especially following the Holiday season.
The device's dimensions are less than one centimeter across (representing about one third of the area of a U.S. penny). The micro-sized gadget functions to produce gentle electric pulses from the stomach's natural churning motions. A signal is sent to the vagus nerve, which connects the brain and the stomach. The gentle stimulation serves to fool the brain into thinking that the stomach is full, kicking in after just a few bites of food.
The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve. The nerve interfaces with parasympathetic control of the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. It is the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system in the human body. The nerve also plays a small role in the sensation of taste near the root of the tongue.
Commenting on the device, Luke Funk, a surgery professor in UW-Madison's Division of Minimally Invasive, Foregut and Bariatric Surgery stated: "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."
Details of the device and its development have been posted in Nature Communications. The associated research paper is titled "Effective weight control via an implanted self-powered vagus nerve stimulation device."
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