Obesity, a major problem in the United States and worldwide, is typically combatted through dieting, exercise and risky gastric bypass surgeries as a final resort. To find new approaches to weight loss, researchers at Texas A&M University have created an easily implantable device that imitates a feeling of fullness.
Dr. Sung Il Park, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his team have created a miniaturized, battery-free wireless implant that uses light to stimulate the vagus nerve, which transports sensory information about satiety to the brain and consequently curbs hunger.
Existing devices using vagus nerve stimulation do so with wires attached to an outside electrical source or wirelessly with an embedded battery. The team’s wireless implant, which can be controlled from a remote radio frequency source such as a smartphone, applies the same theory in a more comfortable fashion for the patient.
“We wanted to create a device that not only requires minimal surgery for implantation but also stimulates specific stomach nerve endings,” Park explained. “This can be hugely beneficial to people needing dramatic weight loss surgeries.”