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Plan for weight loss by MIT researchers: Fill your stomach with expanding golf ball pills

(MIT) ((Courtesy of MIT))

If only weight loss was as easy as taking a pill, right? 19659003] It is a common refrain that is frequently exploited by these shady diet pills burning of nutritional supplements and quick fitting procedures online.

Before your skepticism turns to concrete, consider the following: An MIT researcher says his team has developed a sophisticated pill that will shrink the space in your abdomen and make it easier for you to avoid excess calories. Although Xuanhe Zhao, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, does not offer a money-back guarantee, he is part of a team that has developed a pill that swells to the size of a golf ball. It is swallowed and could linger for up to a month Stay stomach.

The pill is still being tested in models similar to the human gastrointestinal tract, but researchers hope one day to commercialize the technology.

You would eat a few of these pills; They swell up in the stomach and occupy it with very soft materials to make people feel full and eat less, "Zhao said. "It's easier than surgery, or putting painful rubber balloons in the stomach to eat less."

Initial, left, swollen and shrunken sizes of hydrogel pill. (Xinyue Liu, Shaoting Lin) (Photo credits: Xinyue Liu, Shaoting Lin)

For those who need extreme weight loss, the options may seem daunting and invasive. Surgeries such as gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy reduce the size of the stomach and reduce the number of calories absorbed by the body. However, they are irreversible and pose a formidable risk such as blood clots and infections.

The appeal of the expanding pill is its simplicity, Zhao said. The pill consists of two types of hydrogels – mixtures of polymers and water. Once swollen, Zhao said, the pill has a consistency similar to tofu or jello.

To remove the objects from the stomach, he said that a patient would drink a calcium solution (at a higher concentration than in the milk), the pills shrink to their original size so that they can pass through the digestive system.

Zhao said weight loss is a potential application for technology, but there are others. He has been trying for years to develop a pill that can stay in the human body for weeks or even months – a branch of research known as "ingestible electronics". The challenge, he said, is the development of a small pill enough to be taken orally, but tough enough to endure the dangerous environment in the human stomach with muscular squeezing and sour juices.

"We really needed a pill to swell fast enough before the stomach emptied," Zhao said. The design of the pill was noticed by the puffer fish, which quickly aspirates to soak up water and avoid predators.

Although unlikely, doctors can use this pill to monitor conditions in the body, such as ph equilibrium or virus bacteria or temperature. The researchers say the pills could also be used to place tiny cameras in the body that can monitor tumors and ulcers over time. Sensors embedded in the pill could monitor whether a patient is taking the medication on time.

Taking drugs – or "drug-independence" in the health world – is a "common and costly problem" Study cited by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

"About 30 to 50 percent of adults in the US are not on long-term medication, which translates into an avoidable cost of $ 100 billion annually," the 2013 study said.

It may seem like monitoring a patient from the inside sound futuristic, but it's already happening.

At the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Clinic, doctors integrate tiny sensors into pills that enable them to monitor chemotherapy patients. Heart rate, activity level and sleep cycle. The sensor, which is approximately the size of a grain of sand and dissolves in the gastrointestinal tract, informs the doctors when a patient has taken medication. The information is compiled into a database that doctors can access through their devices.

"I had a patient whose hands hurt and she could not open her pill bottle," said doctor Edward Greeno, noting that the patient's daughter was nearby, she would take her pills, but if her daughter she would not do it. "The app tells me in real time that she did not take her pills, and I get this message the next morning at the clinic."

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