The researchers, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, say the device differs from existing methods as it is battery-free, minimally invasive and its effects are reversible.
They explained that the device relies on the undulations of the stomach walls to power its internal generators. This gentle stimulation, they say, dupes the brain into thinking that the stomach is full after only a few nibbles of food.
This means the device only stimulates the vagus nerve when the stomach moves.
The device has been tested on rats and helped them lose 40 percent of their body weights.
When Xudong Wang and his collaborators removed the devices after 12 weeks, the rats resumed their normal eating patterns and gained more weight.
“The pulses correlate with the stomach’s motions, enhancing a natural response to help control food intake,” Wang said.
“It’s automatically responsive to our body function, producing stimulation when needed. Our body knows best.
“Our expectation is that the device will be more effective and convenient to use than other technologies.”
Luke Funk, a surgery professor in UW-Madison’s Division of Minimally Invasive, Foregut and Bariatric Surgery, said: “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.”