May 10, 2006

With obesity a growing threat to Americans' long-term health, device manufacturers are developing devices that suppress appetite to reduce obesity.

Medtronic is developing a device that sends signals from the stomach to the brain telling it the stomach it is full. Called an implantable gastric stimulator (IGS), the device is implanted in a patient's abdomen with electrical leads sutured to the stomach's outer lining. An external programmer communicates with the device to adjust electrical stimulation levels to accommodate individual patients' needs.

Researchers are still learning how and why this process may alleviate hunger cravings, Medtronic notes. But results from animal studies show that electrical stimulation causes the stomach to relax and swell, triggering stomach nerves involved in digestion to send signals to the brain that fool it into thinking the stomach is full, the firm says.

Medtronic is also developing deep brain stimulation technology, which uses tiny electrodes implanted in specific areas of the brain to affect behavior, movement and other functions as a possible treatment for obesity. ()a href="http://www.fdanews.com/ddl/33_19/" target=_blank>