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MIT Engineers Introduce Vibrating Digestible Capsule for Obesity Treatment


Fighting obesity often feels like an uphill battle, but a new treatment could be the game changer. MIT engineers have invented a capsule that promises a 40% reduction in food intake, empowering users to take control of their appetite and ultimately, their weight.

The concept revolves around exploiting the natural signals sent by the stomach to the brain when it’s distended. MIT engineers created an ingestible capsule equipped with a vibrating element powered by a small silver oxide battery. Once the capsule reaches the stomach and dissolves its coating, the electronic circuit activates the vibrating motor. This vibration mimics the response of stretch receptors to stomach distension, triggering signals through the vagus nerve.

When experimenting on animals, it was discovered that when the capsule was activated about 20 minutes before feeding the animals, they ate about 40% less on average. Furthermore, the animals exhibited slower weight gain during periods treated with the vibrating pill. The researchers also observed that the hormone releases were similar to what happens after a meal, even when the animals hadn’t eaten.

The MIT vibrating capsule presents a potential alternative to existing obesity treatments, some of which are invasive or involve costly drugs. Traditional interventions like diet and exercise may not always yield desired results, and existing medical treatments often pose challenges. The current version of the pill is designed to vibrate for about 30 minutes, but the researchers aim to explore adapting it for longer durations, enabling wireless on-off control.

MIT researchers believe this technology could offer a cost-effective alternative for people with limited access to sophisticated or expensive obesity treatment options. Unlike injectable and expensive weight-loss drugs, the vibrating capsules could be manufactured at a more affordable price point, potentially transforming care and therapy in global health settings. The researchers plan to scale up the manufacturing of the vibrating capsules to enable human clinical trials. These trials will provide essential insights into the safety, optimal timing for capsule ingestion before a meal, and the required frequency for administration.

Article Source: MIT News