Human Augmentation For Weight Loss

If you read almost any article about powered human implants, you will encounter the same roadblock, “it could be so much better with more powerful batteries.” Our fleshy power systems are different from electrical systems, but we are full of moving parts, so [Xudong Wang] and fellow researchers have harnessed that power (Sci Hub Alt) and turned it right back into something else our body understands.

The goal of this project is to control obesity by tricking the vagus nerve into thinking we are full as we digest our current meal. The treatment has already been proven with battery-powered implants, but this version uses the oscillations of the stomach for power and sends the generated power right where it is needed. A control group of rats showed no change over 100 days, but those with this implant shed more than a third of their body weight. This may need some tuning but its effectiveness seems to be heading the right way, and it is surgically reversible.

The device is a triboelectric generator coated in polyimide and Ecoflex™ with gold electrodes that wrap around the vagus nerve at the gastro-esophageal junction. The generator presses against the stomach from outside and the rhythm of the muscles generates the signal that the stomach is full so it becomes a loop of digesting ⇄ sated.

Another handful, of implants don’t need power from inside the body and use RFID technology.
Via IEEE Spectrum.

17 thoughts on “Human Augmentation For Weight Loss

  1. I don’t know about this. The truly obese people I have known seemed to have more of a psychological need to eat than a feeling that they are still hungry. Worse, if this goes wrong I can imagine a person being doomed to feeling sick every moment of every day for the rest of their life.

    1. I know a few people who went the surgery route and eventually gained the weight back. As you say, it’s more of a mental thing than anything. They could physically only eat a small fraction of what they did previously in one sitting, so they just modified their eating habits to eat as much as they can as often as they can. So now instead of 3 big meals, they’re eating 20 small ones; still consisting of the same garbage food as before.

      1. Yes, there is absolutely a huge mental component to this–but current surgical methods only put a hard limit on how much can be eaten in a sitting, and it’s a drastic change that is hard to reconcile. This looks to have the possibility of being ‘tunable’, maybe slowly creating a larger and larger restriction to ease the person into it. I think that would help prevent someone from looking for a loophole like you’ve described above.
        My friend’s mother and sister both had bariatric surgery with differing degrees of success. Even though his mother continued to eat until the point that she was in pain and her stomach enlarged again to some degree, she has managed to keep off some of the weight.

  2. This will be a slow trip to market – an active (i.e. electronic), implanted, unique medical device has the most complex regulatory pathway, requiring a Pre-Market Authorization (PMA) review in the US. The new Medical Device Regulation in Europe also requires more data to be reviewed than previously, especially for a device such as this that would be considered high risk.

    Question 1: Can I turn it off between Thanksgiving and Christmas?

    1. The machine would certainly have to be able to turn off, or at least let you eat a healthy amount. I somehow doubt the rats that lost a third of their body weight were all obese to begin with.

  3. People: Keto. Seriously. We (in the US at least) have been fed the lie of the food pyramid that is more about selling certain foods rather than making healthy people. Eating fat does not make you fat. I lost 100lbs, wife is down 60, sister in law is down 70, father down 50, the list goes on. Also have friends and family going from diabetic or pre-diabetic to fine. Yes, the first two-three days are tough as your brain converts to using ketones instead of sucrose, but after that it is a breeze.

    1. Any time someone says “weight loss” a ketoist fanatic zelot has to say something.

      Q: How do you tell if someone is a keto worshiper?

      A: Don’t worry. They will tell you. Over. And. Over

    2. We used to eat more plant based foods too earlier on in the human development from my reading. Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Gundry, Dr. Berry, Dr. Berg, Yoshinori Ohsumi and others have the right ideas though… I think there is an epigenomic and genomic factor first and foremost for optimal health for the longest term that has to consider the individual requirements. Understanding psychology is huge too.

      Real food helps anyone when dosed generally though. The petrochemical synthetic and also modified through processing by or with other mined stuff… isn’t so great in general to consume. Maybe as nutrients for the ground and feed… still. Yuck… really pisses me off how ingredients get changed in great formulas… including in medicine too.

      Amazing how the signals have to be in a sympathetic sweet spot in some cases. I forget the term I learned in my Toxicology course… something like an entrainment dose like the current of injury sweet spot and some chemicals being more toxic teratagen/carcinogen/mutagen at a lower dose effect.. it was in an Al Gore book or something. Anywhew… eliminate the toxic stuff in general.

      Minimal effective dose for the medicinal effects is something to consider without a doubt.

      Neuromodulation of the electrophysiological process awesome article! What an industry… != ^^’ This isn’t TENS… it’s TENG. :D

  4. A doctor told my wife (a nurse) the reason a lot of stomach modification surgeries (for weight loss) eventually result in the patient gaining back lost weight.
    “A milkshake can easily slip past the restriction”.

    1. Yeah… I read about someone who had a gastric band fitted, but they didn’t care to take the diet advice. They started liquidising their burgers, meat pies and fried foods and drinking it. I understand this person ended up with something akin to a pre-stomach

  5. Ecoflex is just a brand name of an addition cure silicone rubber. Not exactly implant grade though either. Just say polydimethylsiloxane or addition cure silicone rubber or silicone rubber.

    How long term implant friendly is this would be the next question? Details that can be addressed but still a potential issue.

    But more so, can the body adapt to this longer term? More specifically, how exactly does it adapt to this longer term? What happens when the stimulation is removed? Does the body suddenly tip back into MUST AT ALL THE DAMN TIME status?

    Are there other issues with tricking the body into thinking that you are constantly digesting? Things like digestion tend to get interrupted during fight or flight for example but this system would always be in digestion mode? What other body systems would interact or be unintentionally altered by this?

    1. Ecoflex is also a GM trademark.

      Anyway, what’s needed is a sweeter, slightly less non-toxic form of fiberglass insulation that causes subsequently-ingested food items to bounce off the lining of a dieter’s distended stomach and out his or her mouth!

  6. Since the nervous system uses extremely low voltage and a mechanical system would eventually break why not hook up the vagus nerve up to an RFID type device than when energized by an external transmitter will stimulate the nerve making the brain think the stomach is full, and an additional advantage would be you could make the brain think the stomach is full even when it’s empty, not just when it’s full like this. I’ll take my Nobel Prize money in unmarked $20.

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