An overweight man Reuters

A new method to reduce overweight will soon hit the market. Already there are methods such as crash diets, stomach stapling and jaw wiring, which are tried by people to address the issue of overweight. The new technique is an anti-obesity implant that works by blocking signals between the stomach and the brain.

Known as Maestro Rechargeable System and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is considered appropriate for people having severe problem of obesity. It is defined for those with a body mass index over 35 and suffering from a weight-related condition like diabetes. After fitting the device, it can be recharged and adjusted wirelessly using an external controller.

Market Launch

The device is expected to go on sale in the U.S. by October and later on in other countries. The device may not translate into a long-sought cure for obesity, as the result is only modest with a weight loss of 9 percent. But it is higher than 6 percent weight loss in people who take an operation in which the device is fitted sans its electrodes.

Nick Finer of University College Hospital in London said it is not a game changer, according to the report in New Scientist. Finer suggests if people want to have surgery, they would be better off having a gastric bypass to cut weight, which is extremely safe and durable.

However, obesity surgeon Scott Shikora, speaking for the device's manufacturer, EnteroMedics said some people dislike the idea of having their intestines replumbed. "A lot of patients don't want the operations we are currently performing because they view it as risky or radical," he says.

The year-long trial of the Maestro system in more than 200 people have not shown great side effects. But some people who got the implant had articulated problems like indigestion, abdominal pain or nausea. So far, the company has not formally published results of its longer term trials. Shikora said the weight loss may reflect after a year and stay on for at least five years.


In terms of operation, the device works by blocking signals that travel along the vagus nerve, an important line of communication between the brain and vital organs. The electrodes are made to wrap around the branch of the nerve that connects to the stomach. The nerve part contains both the neurons going from the stomach to the brain and back to the stomach.

According to EnteroMedics, blocking this pathway reduces stomach expansion and contraction and controls secretion of digestive enzymes. This ultimately reduces hunger and calorie intake. Other conditions can also be treated by devices that stimulate the vagus nerve. For people having the risk of epilepsy, a neck implant will control seizures and can treat headaches and tinnitus.

Among the recent drugs for obesity, there is a new drug approved in December 2014 by the Food and Drug Administration. The new drug, Saxenda, is the fourth prescription drug that FDA had given nod since 2012, reported STL Health News.

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