Disrupting the vagus nerve, which runs between the gut and the brain, may supplant obesity surgery.
When the stomach is empty, the vagus nerve informs the brain and triggers the feeling of hunger. When the stomach contains food, the vagus tells the brain and relays back the brain’s commands to secrete stomach acid to help digest the food.
The brain’s control of the passage of food through the digestive system also relies on the vagus nerve. In short, without the vagus, we would get less hungry, and food would stay longer in the stomach.
Disrupting this communication, they believe, could lead to safe, effective and sustained weight loss — mainly by cutting off signals from the gut that tell the brain it’s time to eat. The concept still has to be validated.
Two different methods of disrupting the vagus nerve are now in clinical trials. One method, vagotomy, simply cuts the nerve and permanently disables it. The other, vagal nerve blocking, uses an electric current to periodically confuse the nerve and prevent it from transmitting signals.
Preliminary results suggest that both methods help to safely reduce excess body weight by about 20% on average within six months of therapy.
Visit: LA Times