Scientists have recently developed a Wireless device to help people struggling with obesity or other weight-related health problems. Often times, those who cannot lose weight naturally resort to gastric bypass surgery. But the scientists wanted to find a less invasive solution. Although most people who have this surgery do not experience serious side effects, it does carry some risks.
Risks of weight loss surgery
According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, short and long term risks are commonly seen here:
- Abandonment syndrome
- Gallstones (risk increases with rapid or substantial weight loss)
- Internal bleeding or heavy bleeding from the surgical wound.
- Perforation of the stomach or intestines.
- Anastomotic bag / obstruction or bowel obstruction
- Protein or caloric malnutrition
- Lung and / or heart problems.
- Skin separation
- Injury to the spleen or other organ
- Ulceration of the stomach or intestine.
- Vitamin or iron deficiency
How Weight Loss Surgery Works
This surgery involves making a small pouch in the stomach and redirecting the digestive tract. The stomach can normally hold about 3 pints of food, but gastric bypass reduces the stomach to about the size of a walnut. Because this surgery involves a permanent change in the digestive system, many people have doubts about the possibility of undergoing surgery.
However, a new study from Texas A&M University published in the journal Communications from nature revealed a medical device that implies a simpler operation. This can help obese people lose weight without the harmful side effects and dangers of gastric bypass. The researchers said their device helps people feel full by stimulating the vagus nerve endings with light. Externally controlled by a remote radio frequency source, the device is only one centimeter wide.
“We wanted to create a device that not only requires minimal surgery for implantation, but also allows us to stimulate specific nerve endings in the stomach,” said Dr. Sung II Park, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Our device has the potential to do both in harsh gastric conditions, which, in the future, can be hugely beneficial for people who need dramatic weight loss surgeries.”
Advantages of new wireless device technology
Advantages of the revolutionary Wireless device compared to other weight loss technologies
Scientists and doctors around the world have sounded the alarm about the growing obesity epidemic. Health problems stemming from obesity cost the US healthcare system about $ 147 billion a year. Not to mention, obesity increases your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic and serious diseases.
For people with obesity, surgery allows patients to lose much of their excess weight and keep it off over time. However, as we discussed earlier, surgeries are not without risks. Therefore, scientists have begun to study alternatives to these invasive methods for reducing body weight. Many researchers have focused their attention on the vagus nerve, as it sends hunger signals from the stomach to the brain.
While some medical devices stimulate the vagus nerve endings and help reduce appetite, most of them still have wires. Like a pacemaker, the leads connect to a source of electricity and provide electrical shocks to stimulate the vagus nerve. the new wireless devicehowever, it will provide patients with a more comfortable and convenient method of combating obesity. The researchers will also employ complex genetic and optical tools to make the device functional.
Researchers say this:
“Despite the clinical benefit of having a wireless system, no device, as of yet, has the ability to perform long-lasting, chronic cell-type specific manipulation of neural activity within any organ other than the brain.”
So Park and the other researchers used genetic tools to express genes that respond to light at certain endings of the vagus nerve. They then created a small paddle-shaped device and placed small LEDs near the tip of its shaft. They attached it to the stomach and placed microchips near the head of the device to allow wireless communication. The combine (device head) also produced small currents to power the LEDs. When they turned on the RF source, they found that the light from the LEDs reduced hunger.
Key Findings from the Study and Future Applications
The team did not expect their experiments to show that the body’s methods of coordinating hunger suppression did not align with previous wisdom. Common knowledge says that when the stomach reaches its maximum capacity, it expands and this information is sent to the brain through the vagus nerve. However, the scientists found that the body responded to fullness signals differently than previously thought.
“Our findings suggest that stimulating the non-stretching receptors, the ones that respond to chemicals in food, could also give a feeling of fullness even when the stomach is not distended,” Park said.
In future applications, the researchers believe that the wireless device could stimulate nerve endings in other parts of the digestive tract.
“Wireless optogenetics and the identification of peripheral neural pathways that control appetite and other behaviors are of great interest to researchers in the basic and applied study fields of electronics, materials science, and neuroscience,” said Park. . “Our new tool now allows us to interrogate neural function in peripheral nervous systems in a way that was impossible with existing approaches.”
Gastric bypass and other weight loss surgeries remain the most popular way to treat severe obesity. However, a new Texas A&M study revealed a revolutionary wireless device that can effectively suppress hunger signals. This could change the way doctors treat obesity in the future, as implantation of the device would require minimal surgery. Therefore, it would represent a lower risk for patients and would not involve altering the digestive tract in any way.
Scientists hope that doctors will be able to use the device in other areas of the gastrointestinal system in the future. Obesity is an ever-growing problem, especially in Westernized countries, and this device could help reverse it. Diet and exercise don’t work for everyone looking to lose weight, so this technology shows promise in the battle against obesity.